By MICHAEL T.BURKHART
A model of the USS New Jersey brought back many
memories for John Muller, who served as a pipefitter on the
battleship from 1952 to 1956, during the Korean War.
The first time he saw the real USS New Jersey was at
Pier 7 in Norfolk, Va. He was 18 and fresh out of Navy boot
"I wasn't aware that I had been assigned to a
battleship," said Muller, 66, of Long Island, N.Y., who
traveled to Echelon Mall Sunday to see a display of
battleship New Jersey memorabilia. "It took you weeks to
Muller's job on the ship was "damage control." He
crawled all over the insides of the ship to make sure it
The Home Port Alliance, the nonprofit group working to
establish the retired battleship as a floating museum on
the Camden Waterfront, assembled a display on the second
floor of Echelon Mall on Saturday and Sunday. Area
residents donated artifacts for the museum.
The 5-foot-3-inch long model Muller looked over was one
of four New Jersey models on display. Sal Baglieri, of Pine
Hill, built the model, working a few hours almost every day
for two years. The radio-controlled wooden model, which
weighs about 25 pounds, is powered by a battery and is
"I tried to make it as accurate as possible," said
Baglieri, 52, who served on aircraft carriers USS Roosevelt
and USS Kennedy from 1972 to 1976. "I've been a battleship
fanatic since I was in second grade."
Life was good on the New Jersey, Muller recalled. On
some summer nights, movies were shown on deck. The food was
At night, when the ship was dark so as not to attract
enemy fire, Muller thanked God he was aboard the ship and
not on land.
"(The New Jersey) did a lot of good over there," he
said. "It was a good deterrent."
Herb Baker, 78, of Collingswood, also pored over the
He was with the Coast Guard in 1943 when the USS New
Jersey went on a shakedown run to Maine. There, the ship's
huge guns were fired for the first time.
"The first time I saw (the ship) I couldn't believe it,"
The ship turned port side and fired all guns at once.
The battleship rocked sideways in the water as Baker
watched from a 240-foot Coast Guard cutter escorting the
"That was an awesome sight," he said. "We all wore
earplugs, I'll tell you that."