The USS South Dakota (BB-57) was a South Dakota-class battleship laid down on July 5, 1939, and launched on June 7, 1941. It was commissioned on March 20, 1942, under Capt. Thomas Leigh Gatch’s command with the hull number BB-57 and served in the US Navy for 5 years until it was decommissioned on January 31, 1947. During its activity, the ship carried a complement of 2,364 men on board and had its main missions in Tonga Islands, Lahai Passage, Espiritu Santo, Cuba, Santa Cruz Islands, Scapa Flow, Efate Island, and Leyte. After the decommissioning, the ship was struck from the Navy Register on June 1, 1962, and subsequently sold for scrapping. For the services brought to the country during World War II, the USS South Dakota received 13 battle stars and many awards. Navy veterans who have been diagnosed with conditions linked to asbestos exposure, have a long road ahead of them and face mounting medical expenses. Though some can be successfully treated, most diseases can lead to reduced respiratory function and death, leaving loved ones behind to contend with the emotional and financial consequences. If a veteran dies of a service-connected illness, surviving family members are eligible for monthly compensation.