From the Commanding Officer, USS KITTY HAWK (CV-63)
Attached is the commentary of a U.S. Naval Officer whom I do not know, but I would like to know. He evidences an appreciation of history and his heritage, where it came from, and most importantly…..the need for those under his leadership to know, as well.
The ship's Chaplain understands, as evidenced by the content of his prayer for the occasion (attached).
The Commanding Officer who planned this surprise rendezvous at sea using his ship was not even born when the USS LEXINGTON was sunk in the battle of the Coral Sea in 1942, but he learned the origins of American sea power in World War II.
By this one isolated act during his command, he dramatically branded the relevance of American sea power on each of his crewmembers of 5,500 sailors and Marines aboard the U.S. aircraft carrier USS KITTY HAWK, then in the South Pacific Ocean...just a few weeks ago.
As I speak with and pass among our 1,800,000 Florida Veterans on a daily basis, I am constantly reminded of the sacrifices of them and their families to make America (and most of Earth's 6 billion people) able to live in freedom. The defense of freedom is going on now, and the crew of this American aircraft carrier, and their families, are among the precious few (less than 1% of Americans) today who are carrying the load for America and our allies. These courageous few deserve our unwavering support...and active thanks.
/s/ LeRoy Collins, Jr.
From the Commanding Officer, USS KITTY HAWK (CV-63):
Subject: USS LEXINGTON COMMEMORATIVE PRAYER
Date: Sun, 29 Jul 2007 11:46:26 +0900
Had a unique opportunity to surprise the crew the other day. Made a little jog in navigation and was able to pass directly over the final resting place of USS LEXINGTON, CV-2. We passed over at almost exactly the time of day that she was hit by the first torpedo in May 19 42 and the weather was exactly the same. That part was a coincidence, but making the conscious decision a couple days ago to CPA (closest point of approach, LC) her resting place was not.
I personally read, over the 1MC (ship's announcing system, LC), from CAPT Sherman's after action report. Chaps (the ship's Chaplain, LC) then said a prayer (attached), we played echo Taps and two sailors laid flowers from the fantail (stern, LC).
Didn't tell almost anyone what we were doing ahead of time. During weekly training GQ (General Quarters battle stations drill, LC) last night the XO and CHE (ship's Executive Officer, and Chief Engineer Officer, LC) read aloud from the Chief Engineer's after action report lessons learned. You cannot believe how appreciative the crew has been for all of this. It actually made me feel pretty good.
26 JULY 2007
TRANSITING THE AREA OF THE BATTLE OF THE CORAL SEA
LET US PRAY. ALMIGHTY AND ETERNAL GOD, THE MYSTIC BEAUTY OF THE SEA SEEMS TO RISE IN BENEDICTION TO YOU. AS WE PASS OVER THESE HALLOWED WATERS WHERE 65 YEARS AGO, THE USS LEXINGTON WAS LOST IN THE BATTLE OF THE CORAL SEA, IT IS ONLY RIGHT THAT WE STOP AND PAUSE FOR A MOMENT TO REMEMBER THE MOMENTOUS SACRIFICE OF OUR ELDER SHIPMATES. FROM THEM, WE LEARN THE HIGHEST IDEALS OF THE WARRIOR SPIRIT: SELF-SACRIFICE, MISSION ACCOMPLISHMENT, TENACITY.
IN THE DOGGED FIVE-DAY BATTLE THAT CHANGED THE COURSE OF WORLD WAR II, SAILORS FROM ACROSS AMERICA AND FROM EVERY WALK OF LIFE, BANDED TOGETHER WITH A COMMON FOCUS OF DEFEATING A FORMIDABLE ENEMY.
LORD GOD, WE REMEMBER THOSE WHO FOUGHT AND PERISHED HERE. WE ARE THANKFUL FOR THEIR LIVES EVEN AS WE ARE WE ARE INSPIRED BY THEIR MONUMENTAL ACHIEVEMENT. WE ARE THANKFUL FOR THE OPPORTUNITY THAT WE HAVE TO SERVE IN OUR NATIONS DEFENSE AND TO CARRY ON THESE HIGH IDEALS. WE ASK THAT YOU WILL WALK WITH US TO REMIND US THAT THE TRADITION WE INHERIT DOES NOT BELONG TO US INDIVIDUALLY, BUT IS A SACRED TRUST GIVEN TO US BY THOSE UPON WHOSE SHOULDERS WE STAND.
AS TAPS IS PLAYED FOR THE FAITHFUL DEPARTED WHO IN THIS PLACE FOUGHT AND DIED SO MANY YEARS AGO, WE OFFER YOU OUR MOST HUMBLE PRAYER. MAY THEIR SOULS, AND THE SOULS OF ALL WHO HAVE GIVEN THEIR LIVES FOR FREEDOM'S CAUSE, THROUGH THE MERCY OF GOD, REST IN PEACE. AMEN.
/s/ LeRoy Collins, Jr.