Military


CVN-77 George H.W. Bush

The new aircraft carrier named for former U.S. President George H.W. Bush was commissioned Saturday 10 January 2009 at Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia. Attending the ceremony was the former president and former first lady Barbara Bush, and their son, U.S. President George W. Bush, who launched the Nimitz class nuclear-powered carrier Saturday by saying, "I hereby place the United States Ship George H.W. Bush in commission. May God bless and guide this warship and all who shall sail in her." Calling his father an "awesome man," Bush said, "So what do you give a guy who has been blessed and has just about everything he has ever needed? Well, an aircraft carrier!" The elder Bush is a decorated Navy pilot from World War II who flew torpedo bombers off the converted aircraft carrier USS San Jacinto. "Being here in this ceremony takes me back 65 years to another commissioning, this one on the shipyards of Philadelphia, for the USS San Jacinto, a light carrier upon which my crewmates, very few of whom are with us today, and I were preparing to serve in World War II," the former president said.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates also declared USS George H.W. Bush a fitting tribute to the man who served his country for more than 40 years in several capacities. "There is no one more worthy of having the last Nimitz-class aircraft carrier named in his honor than our 41st president, the last of the World War II generation to serve as commander-in-chief," Gates said. "As commander-in-chief, President [George H.W.] Bush had a courage and toughness that impressed all those who worked for him. "At the same time, he was, and is, a man of feeling, especially where men and women in uniform are concerned," the secretary added.

President George W. Bush delivered the principal address at the christening ceremony of the Navy's newest aircraft carrier, named for his father, former President George H. W. Bush, at 10 am EDT 07 October 2006 at Northrop Grumman Newport News Shipyard, Newport News, VA. Capt. Kevin O'Flaherty, a native of Los Angeles, Calif., and a 1981 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, is the prospective commanding officer. In that capacity, he will be responsible for more than 5,000 crew members, to include the embarked air wing, when the ship is commissioned and fully operational.

The ceremonial keel-laying of the Navy's newest Nimitz-class carrier, Pre-Commissioning Unit George H. W. Bush (PCU 77), was held Sept. 6, 2003 at Northrup Grumman Newport News shipyard. On-hand to authenticate the keel was former president and namesake George H. W. Bush. The ceremony served to authenticate the keel by welding a steel plate burnished with George H. W. Bush's initials to the keel. After witnessing the burnishing, Bush announced, "The keel has been truly and fairly laid."

The 10th and final Nimitz-class carrier is the most advanced carrier of the class, a transitional carrier to bridge the gap between today's Navy and the next generation of aircraft carriers - CVN 21. Improvements include a bulbous bow, a modernized island house that includes a new, more integrated radar tower, navigation and communication systems upgrades and installation of transparent armor windows. Also included are a modernized aircraft launch and recovery system, and an integrated damage control data display system, which will improve the crew's crisis response capabilities.

The aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush floated for the first time September 23, 2006 when Northrop Grumman Newport News flooded its big dry dock with more than 85 million gallons of water from the James River. The process began Sept. 15, when the dock was flooded to its keel blocks.

CVN-77 Lexington

On 24 February 2000 Senator Warner and Senator Inouye introduced Senate Concurrent Resolution 84--expressing The Sense Of Congress Regarding The Naming Of Aircraft Carrier CVN-77, The Last Vessel Of The Historic "Nimitz" Class Of Aircraft Carriers, As The U.S.S. "LEXINGTON ". The resolution noted that:

... the name bestowed upon aircraft carrier CVN-77 should embody the American spirit and provide a lasting symbol of the American commitment to freedom;

Whereas for the citizens of the United States, the name ``Lexington'' has been synonymous with defense of freedom from the very first battle of the War of the American Revolution and is taught to American schoolchildren as the place of the ``shot heard round the world'', at which our forebears mustered the courage to gain independence;

Whereas the name ``Lexington'' has been associated with naval aviation from its origins in the 1920s, when President Harding bestowed the name ``Lexington'' on the second aircraft carrier in United States history;

Whereas that vessel, the U.S.S. Lexington (CV-2), also known as the ``Fighting Lady'', saw active service from 1927 until lost in 1942 during the historic Battle of the Coral Sea;

Whereas immediately after that loss, President Franklin D. Roosevelt saw fit to bestow the name ``Lexington'' on a successor aircraft carrier in order to carry on the fighting spirit to preserve freedom;

Whereas that successor aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Lexington (CV-16), joined the fleet in 1943 and earned 11 battle stars during the Pacific campaigns of World War II as she helped carry the fight to the enemy;

Whereas the U.S.S. Lexington (CV-16) continued her service to the United States after World War II, conducting numerous deployments during the Cold War and completing her 48 years of service as a training aircraft carrier for student aviators; and

Whereas upon the completion of her service and in keeping with the traditions of the Navy, the U.S.S. Lexington (CV-16) was stricken from the Navy Vessel Register on November 30, 1991: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), That it is the sense of Congress that the aircraft carrier CVN-77 should be named the U.S.S. Lexington --

(1) in order to honor the men and women who served in the Armed Forces of the United States during World War II, and the incalculable number of United States citizens on the home front during that war, who mobilized in the name of freedom, and who are today respectfully referred to as the ``Greatest Generation''; and

(2) as a special tribute to the 16,000,000 veterans of the Armed Forces who served on land, sea, and air during World War II, of whom less than 6,000,000 remain alive today, and serve as a lasting symbol of commitment to freedom as they pass on and proudly take their place in history.

This was adopted in Sec. 1012. Sense Of Congress On The Naming Of The Cvn-77 Aircraft Carrier in the Conference Report On H.R. 5408, Floyd D. Spence National Defense Authorization Act For Fiscal Year 2001 -- (House Of Representatives - October 06, 2000). But since this was a "sense of the Congress non-binding resolution, it did not mandate this name, and the Navy chose otherwise.

Secretary of the Navy Gordon England officially named the Navy's 10th Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, CVN 77, in honor of World War II naval aviator and former President of the United States George Herbert Walker Bush during a ceremony Dec. 9, 2002 at the Pentagon. The future USS George H.W. Bush was under construction at Northrop Grumman Newport News in Virginia. USS George H.W. Bush is expected to join the fleet in FY2009.

Chronology

George H.W. Bush

George H.W. Bush was born June 12, 1924, in Milton, Mass., to Dorothy Walker Bush and Prescott Bush. The elder Bush served in Congress from 1952-1962 as a senator from Connecticut.

Bush's lifetime of service to America began when he joined the Navy on his 18th birthday in 1942 as a seaman. He became the Navy's youngest pilot when he received his commission and was designated a naval aviator before his 19th birthday.

Upon hearing of the Pearl Harbor attack, while a student at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., George Bush decided he wanted to join the Navy to become an aviator. Six months later, after graduation, he enlisted in the Navy on his 18th birthday and began preflight training at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After completing the 10-month course, he was commissioned as an ensign in the U.S. Naval Reserve on 9 June 1943, several days before his 19th birthday; making him the youngest naval aviator then.

After finishing flight training, he was assigned to Torpedo Squadron (VT-51) as photographic officer in September 1943. As part of Air Group 51, his squadron was based on USS San Jacinto in the spring of 1944. San Jacinto was part of Task Force 58 that participated in operations against Marcus and Wake Islands in May, and then in the Marianas during June. On 19 June, the task force triumphed in one of the largest air battles of the war. During the return of his aircraft from the mission, Ensign Bush's aircraft made a forced water landing. The destroyer, USS Clarence K. Bronson, rescued the crew, but the plane was lost. On 25 July, Ensign Bush and another pilot received credit for sinking a small cargo ship.

After Bush was promoted to Lieutenant Junior Grade on 1 August, San Jacinto commenced operations against the Japanese in the Bonin Islands. On 2 September 1944, Bush piloted one of four aircraft from VT-51 that attacked the Japanese installations on Chi Chi Jima. For this mission his crew included Radioman Second Class John Delaney, and Lieutenant Junior Grade William White, USNR, who substituted for Bush's regular gunner. During their attack, four TBM Avengers from VT-51 encountered intense antiaircraft fire. While starting the attack, Bush's aircraft was hit and his engine caught on fire. He completed his attack and released the bombs over his target scoring several damaging hits. With his engine on fire, Bush flew several miles from the island, where he and one other crew member on the TBM Avenger bailed out of the aircraft. However, the other man's chute did not open and he fell to his death. It was never determined which man bailed out with Bush. Both Delaney and White were killed in action. While Bush anxiously waited four hours in his inflated raft, several fighters circled protectively overhead until he was rescued by the lifeguard submarine, USS Finback. For this action, Bush received the Distinguished Flying Cross. During the month he remained on Finback, Bush participated in the rescue of other pilots.

Subsequently, Bush returned to San Jacinto in November 1944 and participated in operations in the Philippines. When San Jacinto returned to Guam, the squadron, which had suffered 50 percent casualties of its pilots, was replaced and sent to the United States. Throughout 1944, he had flown 58 combat missions for which he received the Distinguished Flying Cross, three Air Medals, and the Presidential Unit Citation awarded San Jacinto.

Because of his valuable combat experience, Bush was reassigned to Norfolk and put in a training wing for new torpedo pilots. Later, he was assigned as a naval aviator in a new torpedo squadron, VT-153. With the surrender of Japan, he was honorably discharged in September 1945 and then entered Yale University.

Bush later served in a number of roles for America, including U.S. congressman, ambassador to the United Nations, chief of the U.S. Liaison Office to China and director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Later, Bush served as vice president and president of the United States.

As commander in chief, he led the United States and a coalition of 30 other nations during the Gulf War. The war ended Iraq's invasion of neighboring Kuwait and liberated the people of the small Middle Eastern nation.




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