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

Richard Kenyon, Radarman 2/c, served in Enterprise from August 1943 to February 1946. He recalls returning from the Big E's second "Magic Carpet" voyage to Southampton, England, in December 1945.

Big E's 1945 Christmas Present

Youngsters from a New Jersey foundling home got an unforgettable Christmas present from the Big E's crew in 1945. Notice improvised Christmas tree in left background.

One memory of the "Big E" which has remained vivid in my mind is Christmas Day 1945. It isn't a memory of battle or heroics, but it brings special thoughts to me as I recall it.

The Enterprise had made her second trip to Southampton, England, to pick up troops and was on her way home. We had hoped to arrive in the States early enough so that the men who had been gone so long could get to their homes for the holiday. Some had been away four years or longer. Because of a severe storm we did not reach Bayonne, New Jersey, until Christmas Eve day. We were unloaded and processed as quickly as possible.

Early Christmas morning, the "E's" chaplain received a telephone call telling him that children in a foundling home for boys had no hope for a "Merry Christmas" - not even a special dinner. Was there anything the "E" could do to help?

All hands were rousted (some after a late night at liberty), a meal prepared, and a party planned. We hosted approximately 140 young boys that day and had the time of our lives. Not only was a festive meal served to them, the youngsters also went away with their pockets laden with candy bars and "E" sailor caps atop their heads.

It was a toss-up as to who had the best Christmas - the boys or the crusty old crew.

Each year since, as Christmas nears and I have watched my boys and now my grandchildren enjoy their gifts, I remember the faces of those children on board ship that day and how some of them cried when it was time to leave.

That occasion seemed to symbolize what that great ship had fought for during four perilous years of war on the high seas.

Article reprinted with kind permission of Militaria International Magazine, Minneapolis, MN.
Copyright Militaria International Magazine.

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