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USS Tortuga Gets Underway

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS100225-25
Release Date: 2/25/2010 9:34:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Daniel Hinton, USS Tortuga Public Affairs

SASEBO, Japan (NNS) -- USS Tortuga (LSD 46) began its scheduled underway period in support of several high profile mission exercises Feb. 22.

The underway period is slated to last for about three weeks and will allow the crew to visit historically significant places like the island of Iwo To, also known as Iwo Jima.

The crew will also prepare for upcoming exercises like Unit Level Assessment-Sustainment, which inspects the ship's ability to adequately train its personnel.

Tortuga was chosen to represent the Navy at the 65th anniversary of the battle of Iwo Jima and will support the commemoration ceremony, embarking about 250 Marines and providing logistical support.

"The crew is very excited and honored that they were selected to go and support this," said Cmdr. James P. Lowell, commanding officer of Tortuga. "I think they realize that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be a part of history and see a place that most people only read about."

"Uncommon valor was a common virtue is the phrase veterans and civilians associate with Iwo To. We hope this trip puts those traits into this ships ethos," said L.t. j.g. Keith Madison Carter, Tortuga command chaplain.

More than 6,000 Marines and 17,000 Japanese were killed throughout the month and-a-half-long battle.

"To steal a quote 'We are slowly losing the Greatest Generation' and Marines will never forget Iwo Jima and the sacrifices they made there," said Lowell. "So every five years we have a commemoration for those who died in the battle."

Some veterans of the battle will also attend and the Japan Air Self-Defense Force will participate as well.

"We are going to be driving into history, Iwo Jima is a rather isolated place and it is not visited very often," said Lowell. "Sailors are going to get an opportunity to go to a place the majority of the Navy will never get to see."

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