Courageous 'Big E' Faces Last Enemy
NEW YORK (UPI) - Any day now, a rust-tinged gray
ghost of a ship that many regard as the fightingest thing ever to float, will be tugged from
her berth for a date with oblivion.
The fabled "Big E" that roamed the Pacific like the wrath of an aroused nation
against the enemy in World War II will glide across still waters to face her last enemy -
the scrapper's torch.
Carrier Enterprise Sold 'For Scrap Only'
The 20,000 tons of courage, luck, and easy-going greatness that the Japanese
tried desperately to destroy through four years of agonizing warfare has been sold to a
wrecker for $561,333. The sale contract specifies "for scrap only." This will be, surely, one
of the noblest and saddest piles of scrap in history.
Her name is Enterprise. Adm. Bill Halsey, who was ramming her hell-bent toward
Hawaii even as the Japanese planes came out of the dawn to waken Pearl Harbor, called her
"The Galloping Ghost of the Oahu Coast." To fighting men, she was the Big E.
Santa Cruz Island Engagement Recalled
As the wrecker's acytelene flames bites into the plates of her hangar deck,
maybe someone will remember what once was written there. The occasion was the Santa Cruz
Island fight, when the Enterprise flew Adm. Thomas C. Kinkaid's flag early in the war. She
took hits fore and aft and saw her sister aircraft carrier Hornet fatally hit.
With the Hornet lost that night, the entire U. S. carrier air power in the
Pacific was just, as Kinkaid said, "one battered old carrier - the Enterprise." Somebody
chalked foot-high letters on the deck: "The Enterprise Against Japan." Crippled, patched, defiant,
she steamed 20 days later into the Battle of Guadalcanal.
Farewell to the 'Big E'
Several thousand American homes must have been saddened yesterday morning when
the newspapers were opened or the television turned on and there were the pictures of the carrier
Enterprise being towed to the scrap yard. In those homes fathers and mothers, wives, sisters or
brothers, when asked where the son or husband was serving, had drawn themselves up an extra
inch or two and replied proudly, "Oh, he's on the Big E."
Even in her lifetime this flagship of Admiral Halsey, "the one-ship Pacific Fleet,"
was a legend. She had twenty battle stars. She accounted for more than 900 enemy planes and 250
enemy vessels. She was the "fightingest" carrier of them all. Now she is part of the great Navy
tradition. Her name is reverently coupled with the other immortals. But her end was inevitable.
She had become obsolete. Efforts to preserve her as a national shrine had been unsuccessful.
There is, fortunately, another side to this sorrowful picture of the gallant
fighter going to what may seem an ignominious end. Big E was just as good, and only as good, as
the men who fought her. Her flight deck was alive because there were men to fly. Her guns spoke
because there were men to load and fire. Her engines carried her through because men oiled and
wiped and watched the gauges - and sweat it out when the Kamikazies struck at Okinawa.
She was the terror of the enemy - they reported her sunk seven times - because
men could plan and give the order to strike.
Yes, Big E is obsolete. But the sort of fighting men who rode her do not become
obsolete. There is the same need for them now as there was then. Courage, skill, endurance,
devotion and imagination do not go the scrap yard. The spirit of Big E still sails.