“Sleep softly my old love, my beauty in the dark, night is a dream we have, as you know as you know…”
M. S. Merwin
USS Enterprise, CV-6, was commissioned at Newport News, Virginia, on 12 May 1938. She was a Yorktown class carrier and would be one of only two prewar carriers to survive World War II. Enterprise also became the most decorated carrier of World War II with 20 battle stars and a Presidential Unit Citation. She was involved in every major battle except two. The “Big E”s planes and guns shot down 911 enemy planes and her air wing sank 71 ships, damaged and/or destroyed 192 more vessels.
Only two prewar carriers survived the war, Enterprise and Saratoga, but Saratoga was sacrificed to the atomic gods at Bikini.
Enterprise would be mothballed after the war and remained in the reserve fleet, being re-designated CVA-6 and then CVS-6 in the 1950′s. A major attempt to save her as a museum ship was made by the Enterprise Association with the help of Fleet Admiral “Bull” Halsey, but their efforts could not raise the required levels of monetary support. The nation lost her national treasure and most decorated ship on 01 July 1958 with the “Big E” sold as scrap metal.
Here’s a clip from the movie “Dive Bomber” showing the Enterprise and her air group in action in 1940 and early 1941.