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

Enterprise's exploits did not go unrecognized, at home or abroad. Over the course of the war, she received 20 battle stars, three more than any other ship (sisterships New Orleans CA-32, Minneapolis CA-36 and San Francisco CA-38 each received 17 battle stars), and seven more than the next carrier (Essex CV-9, which received 13 stars).

In May 1943, while she prepared to return to the States for much needed repair and refitting, Enterprise became the first aircraft carrier to be awarded the Presidential Unit Citation. She later received a Navy Unit Commendation, becoming the only carrier awarded both decorations for service in the Second World War.

Perhaps her two most prestigious tributes were received after she left the war. In August 1945, Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal cited Enterprise as the "one vessel that most nearly symbolizes the history of the Navy in this war." Two months later, following the Navy Day celebration in New York in October 1945, Secretary Forrestal recommended to President Truman that Enterprise, unable to operate the heavier, faster aircraft then entering service, be preserved "as a visible symbol of American valor and tenacity in war, and of our will to fight all enemies who assail us...."

Later that fall, while participating in the Magic Carpet program for returning servicemen to state-side from the European theater, Enterprise docked in Southampton, England on November 23, 1945. During her brief stay, she was boarded by the British First Lord of the Admiralty, Sir Albert Alexander, who presented Enterprise a British Admiralty Pennant, the most prestigious decoration of the Royal Navy. Enterprise is the only ship outside the Royal Navy to have received the pennant, in the more than 400 years since its creation.

Enterprise and her veterans, included among the 16 ships and 10,000 sailors, airmen and Marines who took part in the Doolittle Raid in April 1942, were officially recognized for their daring exploit just recently, on May 15, 1995. The Task Force 16 Citation is the most recent decoration awarded Enterprise and her veterans: it may not be the last.

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Copyright © 1998-2003 Joel Shepherd (webmaster@cv6.org)
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