Thursday, April 19, 2007

Remember the Iowa

While there are many tragic anniversaries to remember this week, and a new one has been added with the shootings at VaTech, try to jar your memory and remember one that has fallen in the memory hole. On this day in 1989, a powder explosion in the center gun, turret 2, of the USS Iowa killed 47 sailors in the prime of their lives. The memory that most people have of this incident is the scandalous accusations made against several sailors by the NIS and the Navy’s power structure at that time. What is always forgotten is the action by the crew to save the ship and maintain its professional reaction to the tragedy.

Seven weeks after the explosion, the crew of the Iowa took their ship back to sea for a six-month deployment to the north Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea. She served honorably as the 6th Fleet Flagship during that deployment, responded to contingency operations off the coast of Lebanon and for the first time in many years there was no aircraft carrier in the Med for several weeks as the Iowa proved it could handle any crisis. 6th Fleet Commander Admiral Johnson was himself so impressed with the abilities and actions of the crew that he sent letters of appreciation to the families of the entire crew while they were in the middle of this deployment.

“Support the troops” is a new mantra in this nation, that wasn’t a common sentiment 20 years ago and it seems the only time that phrase comes out is when the nation is at war. Remember the sailors, airmen, soldiers and Marines who died during peacetime and those who served at a time when wearing the uniform wasn’t portrayed as it is today. The Iowa was a special ship, manned by special men who responded to enormous stress, heartache and scrutiny by doing their jobs quietly and with honor. Remember them and their shipmates of the past, present and future.

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