LSD 49 Harpers Ferry
USS HARPERS FERRY's primary mission is to project power ashore by transporting and launching amphibious craft and vehicles loaded with embarked Marines and their equipment in an amphibious assault. HARPERS FERRY can also render limited docking and repair service to small ships and craft, as well as act as the primary control ship in an amphibious operation.
USS HARPERS FERRY (LSD 49) was built by Avondale Industries in New Orleans, Louisiana. It was commissioned on January 7, 1995.
The HARPERS FERRY was the first of the United States Navy's four new cargo variants of the Whidbey Island Class (LSD 41) of Landing Dock Ships. Upon commissioning, HARPERS FERRY was under the command of CDR Charles P. Salsman, and under CDR Salsman, earned the coveted Commander in Chief Pacific Fleet Golden Anchor Award for 1995. This award recognizes the highest level of achievement in establishing a command climate conducive to the retention of the Navy's most skilled personnel.
HARPERS FERRY also won the Commander Naval Surface Force Pacific Battle Excellence Award for 1995.
HARPERS FERRY also participated in the six-nation "Rim of the Pacific" (RIMPAC) '96 Maritime Exercise. The exercise, which ran from May 22 through June 21, 1996, involved more than 44 ships, 200 aircraft and 20,000 sailors, Marines, Airman, Soldiers and Coast Guardsmen. The regularly scheduled exercise is designed to improve the coordination and interoperability of combined and joint forces in maritime tactical and theater operations.
HARPERS FERRY is scheduled for its first deployment in October 1996.
SHIELD: Dark blue and gold are the colors traditionally associated with the Navy and symbolize the sea and excellence. Red and gold are the traditional Marine Corps colors. The chevron denotes movement symbolizing the delivery ashore of ground troops. The battle-ax, denoting strength and battle-readiness, has two cutting edges to allude to the prowess of both HARPERS FERRY and the Marines it will land.
CREST: The ship's wheel and the fountain, heraldic symbols for the water, refer to world-wide capabilities and transportation while highlighting the location and importance of the town of Harpers Ferry, the ship's namesake. The muskets, from the Civil War era, indicate both the past and the present HARPERS FERRY while alluding to the history and heritage of the town.
SUPPORTERS: The Navy and Marine Corps' officers' swords reflect the ship's mission and are crossed to denote cooperation, teamwork and strength.
USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49) called on the port of Doha, Qatar, on Oct. 11, 2004, for a three-day visit, marking the first U.S. warship to visit the port in more than two years, Harpers Ferry was part of the USS Essex (LHD 2) Expeditionary Strike Group, which was activated on Sept. 10, 2004, and was helping provide security and stability in the Northern Arabian Gulf.
Harpers Ferry is a small, residential town (population 423) and tourist center in the northeastern corner of West Virginia. Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers, Harpers Ferry is known for its scenic beauty and historic significance. Harpers Ferry has forever entrenched itself in the "American Story" as a place where brave men and women lived, fought, and died for their ideals.
Settled in 1732, Harpers Ferry is named for Robert Harper, who in 1747 began to operate a ferry across the Potomac River there. In 1796 President George Washington selected Harpers Ferry as the site for a new United States Arsenal and Armory. Many of the rifles used in the War of 1812 and American Civil War were manufactured at this armory. The armory also made the town of Harpers Ferry a logistically strategic location during the Civil War; coveted by both the North and South.
During the Civil War, Harpers Ferry changed hands between the Union and Confederacy several times, spilling much American blood on its rocky soil. In September 1862, Harpers Ferry's capture by the South provided General Robert E. Lee with a launching point for the Confederate invasion of Maryland, which ended in the bloody battle of Antietam.
What the town is probably most famous for though, is John Brown's failed raid on the Harpers Ferry Armory. John Brown, called Old Brown of Osawatomie (1800-1859), was one of America's most famed abolitionists. Brown's attempts to end slavery by force greatly increased tension between North and South in the period before the American Civil War.
Brown was born on May 9, 1800, in Torrington, Connecticut. His family moved to Ohio when he was five-years-old. John Brown acquired a hatred of slavery that marked his subsequent career, with his father having been actively hostile to the institution. John Brown initiated a project among sympathetic abolitionists to educate young blacks in Pennsylvania, where he was then living. The next 20 years of his life were largely dedicated to this and similar abolitionist ventures.
Aided by increased financial support from abolitionists in the northeastern states, Brown began in 1857 to formulate a plan, which he had long entertained, to free the slaves by armed force. He secretly recruited a small band of supporters for this project, which included the establishment of a refuge for fugitive slaves in the mountains of Virginia. After several setbacks, he finally launched the venture on October 16, 1859, with a force of 18 men (including several of his sons), seizing the U.S. Arsenal at Harpers Ferry, and winning control of the town.
After his initial success he made no attempt at offensive action, but instead occupied defensive positions within the arsenal. His force was soon surrounded by the local militia, which was reinforced on October 17 by a company of U.S. Marines under the command of Colonel Robert E. Lee. Ten of Brown's men, including two of his sons, were killed in the ensuing battle, and he was wounded and forced to capitulate. He was arrested and charged with various crimes, including treason and murder. Convicted, he was hanged on December 2, 1859 at Charlestown, West Virginia.
Today Harpers Ferry is hardly the torrid site of bloodshed and struggle it was in the 19th century. Harpers Ferry is now a National Historical Park, visited by thousands of tourists every year. The town includes many old structures restored as museums and shops. Harpers Ferry is also home to several buildings of Storer College, a Freedman's Bureau School opened in 1867 to educate former slaves.
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