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Princeton (CG 59) Celebrates Legacy with CVL 23 Survivor

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Jason McKnight, Naval Surface Forces Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- USS Princeton (CG 59) celebrated 21 years of active service at Pier 10 Naval Station San Diego with a special guest Feb. 11.

Former USS Princeton (CVL 23) Machinist's Mate Thomas A. Lamb Jr. arrived aboard the cruiser to remind the crew that they carried a proud legacy, said the ship's Commanding Officer (CO) Capt. Roy Kitchener.

Lamb, 84 years old and plankowner of the small aircraft carrier, cut the ceremony's cake with the current Princeton's youngest Sailor, Culinary Specialist Seaman Recruit Diego Torres, 18.

Torres said he thought the event was something he is proud to share with his family.

"The [command master chief] had been talking to me about the tradition of oldest Sailor and youngest Sailor at ceremonies like this, and told me it was going to be with a senior chief from here," said Torres. "But when the CO told us that Mr. Lamb was going to be doing it instead, it became an even bigger honor."

Torres said that although more than one of his family members is in the military, he never really felt a connection to history, until he met Lamb.

"I met someone who was actually in a World War," said Torres. "He did something to actually protect this country. I used to not think about the World Wars…it didn't mean anything to me.

"But now, having met someone like Mr. Lamb, and listened to his stories, I know that what we do is important. What I do is important. I could be the one who gets called [to duty]. I'm very proud now."

Lamb's son, Tim, who said his dad was his biggest hero, was also in attendance at the birthday celebration.

"One thing that I noticed throughout our visit was the utmost respect and honor these Sailors gave my father. It was very heartwarming," said Tim. "They listened to him, and you could tell they were genuine and sincere. Their friendliness was above and beyond what I had expected, and their professionalism was amazing."

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