The Ship - All Hands - Decorations - Remembrance
|Stories and First-Hand Accounts|
|Prisoners of War|
|Rates, Divisions & Pay Scales|
Enterprise's extraordinary record can be attributed to three main factors. First, as a Yorktown-class carrier, she was blessed with a highly effective design. Fast, efficient, and maneuverable, she easily outperformed her predecessors, and held her own with the Essex-class carriers introduced in 1943.
Second, on more than one occasion, Fortune was by her side. Had her task force not been slowed by a storm in December 1941, she would have been docked in Pearl Harbor on December 7, and a prime target for the Japanese attack. Had her Air Group Commander Wade McClusky not spotted a lone enemy destroyer speeding northwest at Midway, that battle might well have ended in a Japanese victory as lopsided as the eventual American triumph.
More than anything else, however, Enterprise's historic legacy is due to the men who served in her. Even a partial roll-call reads like a Who's Who of the Pacific War. Vice Admiral William F. Halsey flew his Flag from her on the early, daring raids against Wake and the Marshalls, as well as the Doolittle Raid. From her bridge, Vice Admiral Raymond Spruance commanded Enterprise and Hornet at Midway. Vice Admiral Marc Mitscher's Flag flew from her when she was Kamikazied off Kyushu, in May 1945. Medal of Honor recipient Edward "Butch" O'Hare commanded her Air Group Six in late 1943, before dying tragically during the United States' first carrier-based night fighter mission: an ultimately successful tactic developed largely by O'Hare and Air Officer Tom Hamilton, and later refined by Bill Martin, commander of VT-10 and Night Air Group Ninety. Wade McClusky, Earl Gallaher, Richard Best and Gene Lindsey - all heroes of Midway - flew from her deck that June 4th morning.
The list continues, of those whose spirit was imprinted on Enterprise and on her men: Robin Lindsey, Daniel "Dog" Smith, William "Killer" Kane, Stanley "Swede" Vejtasa, John Crommelin, James "Jimmy" Flatley, James Ramage, Bruno Gaido, Osborne Hardison, Herschel Smith.
And then there were the thousands of "ordinary" men, who led otherwise quiet lives, but who in a way seldom seen in this day and age, put their plans and dreams on hold, their lives in jeopardy, and turned out to squarely face a lethal foe, and an assault on their values. As many as 30,000 men served in the Big E during her nine years of active service. Among them were 103 enlisted men and one officer who earned all 20 Battle Stars awarded to Enterprise and her men, as well as "plank owners" and others in her pre-war crew who brought the Big E to maturity, ready to fight from the first day of the war.
These men created in Enterprise a spirit which made her one of the most successful and beloved warships in history: a living legend and a symbol of American resolve in every task force in which she sailed.