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USS Enterprise CV-6
The Most Decorated Ship of the Second World War

'The Big E' Comes Home - Still Queen

By Robert Richards.

New York - (UP) - The "Big E " came home from the wars today.

The U.S.S. Enterprise, embattled queen of American aircraft carriers, ghosted through the fog into New York Harbor shortly after dawn with nine other warships from the Pacific fleet.

The Big E nudged slowly through the strange, fresh waters of the Hudson River. A Navy blimp settled down close to her.

The carrier flickered messages to the speeding patrol craft around her, as if to say: "Take it easy, mates. This is my show. This is what I came home for."

The 10,000-ton carrier Monterey led the way. The Enterprise rode in second place, with eight other ships trailing her.

The Monterey flew a giant American flag, and a string of eight small balloons flapped from her masthead.

Sailors gathered along the lower tip of Manhattan waved at the Monterey. They shouted at the men standing on her flight deck. They laughed and talked about her among themselves.

But they only stared quietly at the Big E, for the carrier was coming home with a record too obvious for flattery. She sailed with too many ghosts aboard to cause reckless cheering.

The seamen squinted through the haze, and perhaps they remembered shipmates left at Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, Okinawa.

The Big E flew no flag[1], and only her radar screen stood out in sharp relief behind her superstructure.

There was no cheering from the men who lined her decks. The 20,000-ton carrier had chased the war for more than 275,000 miles and perhaps her crewmen were too tired to get excited.

The "Old Lady" passed within a few hundred yards of the Statue of Liberty.

Many of her crew moved over to the port rail, their caps in hand, but still there was no cheering.

Perhaps they remembered others who couldn't come today.

Shipmates like Lt.Cmdr. Edward H. "Butch"O'Hare, Congressional Medal of Honor winner, who had disappeared in his plane one night above the carrier in the far reaches of the Pacific.

The Enterprise's planes and guns shot down 911 Jap planes, her fliers sank 71 ships. They damaged or probably sank another 192.

The Navy calls her the "fightingest carrier in the fleet," and she wears 18[2] out of a possible 22 Pacific theater battle stars.

The Enterprise was the first carrier to win a Presidential Citation, which was just the same as having a medal pinned on her bridge.

She was the only carrier to send planes into the fight at Pearl Harbor and to stick it out until the desperate days around Okinawa.

The Big E was wounded 16 times during the war, but she never struck her flag nor asked for quarter.

The Enterprise, Monterey, and five destroyers - the Foote, Young, Zellers, Aulick and Douglas H. Fox - will remain in New York for the Navy Day celebrations Oct. 27. They probably will be open to visitors tomorrow.

Articles Copyright © 1945 United Press International; published October 17-18, 1945.

[1] Apparently the flag flying over her island aft was hidden from the reporter's view.

[2] Enterprise's record was later corrected to include 20 battle stars.

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