Norfolk, VA – The USS Enterprise’s last mission will be to hold a reunion and memorial service during the 51-year old air craft carrier’s inactivation ceremony being held at Norfolk Naval Station on Saturday. As previously reported on The Inquisitr, William Shatner apparently desires to make an unofficial short speech due to the USS Enterprise being indirectly related to the Star Trek franchise. Celebrities may try to steal the limelight, but the true focus belongs to the thousand of storied veterans who served aboard the ship they fondly call the Big E.
Commissioned on November 25, 1961, the Big E is the eighth ship to bear the illustrious name Enterprise. According to WTKR, the USS Enterprise (CVN-65) was also the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, hosting more than 100,000 sailors during its 51 years of distinguished service. A veteran of 25 deployments to the Mediterranean Sea, Pacific Ocean, and the Middle East, the USS Enterprise has served during the Cuban Missile Crisis, Vietnam, and the Gulf Wars.
On September 11, 2001, the USS Enterprise aborted her homeward journey after the World Trade Center terrorist attacks, repositioning herself overnight to the North Arabian Sea. The Big E started the War on Terror when she launched the first strikes in direct support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
The sailors of the USS Enterprise have plenty of amazing stories to tell. Over on CBS, retired sailor Michael Neville recalls a “fire that erupted one morning in 1969 as the Enterprise was conducting a final battle drill before heading to Vietnam.” On deck were six 500-pound bombs and the heat of the flames detonated them, blowing away sailors trying to fight the jet fuel fire.
“Even in between the detonations, it’s the fire itself. It’s just a constant roar. It’s just a sort of (an) all-consuming roar,” Neville said. “There’s no doubt that I was scared. I have no memory of being scared, but I know that I was scared…. I had to be. I’d be crazy if I wasn’t.”
A destroyer in the fleet tried to help but all they could do was wait until the fuel consumed itself, leaving a hole blown through two-and-a half inches of steel and 15 aircraft destroyed. Twenty-eight brave men died, and 300 were injured.
“I see what it was like that day,” Neville said. “You don’t get rid of that memory.”
Michael Neville will be among the veterans coming to say goodbye to the USS Enterprise. All USS Enterprise veterans, their families, shipyard workers, and friends of USS Enterprise are invited to register to attend the inactivation week events and the ceremony on the ship’s website, www.enterprise.navy.mil. Tickets to the events will be on a first available basis.