USS Essex (LHD 2) Crew Celebrates Centennial of Naval Aviation  
SASEBO, Japan (Sept. 2, 2011) - Capt. David Fluker, commanding officer of the forward deployed amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2), addresses the ship's crew during a Centennial of Naval Aviation ceremony. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Terry Matlock/Released)
USS Essex (LHD 2) Crew Celebrates Centennial of Naval Aviation 
SASEBO, Japan (Sept. 2, 2011)  - The crew of the forward deployed amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) celebrated the Centennial of Naval Aviation during a ceremony held on the ship’s mess decks Sept. 2.

2011 marks the 100th anniversary of the first aircraft to land on a U.S. Navy ship at sea, and Navy commands throughout the year are celebrating the milestone with observances, flight shows and ceremonies.

Naval aviation is all about team work,” said Capt. Dave Fluker, Essex commanding officer.  “Whether it’s launching and recovering helicopters or Harriers from the flight deck, or maintaining the multitude of systems that make an aircraft fly, the men and women aboard USS Essex are a link in a long chain of Sailors and Marines that have contributed to the success of Naval aviation.”

During the ceremony, the Essex crew watched a video describing the history of flight operations at sea, from its humble beginnings aboard the USS Pennsylvania, where a civilian pilot, Eugene Ely, landed a Curtis biplane onto a makeshift wooden platform on the cruiser in San Francisco Bay on Jan. 18, 1911, to the latest developments on operating unmanned aerial vehicles from ships.

I think it is good for our Sailors to recognize that they are part of something bigger than themselves and that they are a part of history,” said Lt. Mark Bovee, Essex flight deck officer.  “I hope they learned a little about Navy history today and how what they do is important in accomplishing our mission.”

During a presentation, Bovee also described the history of the five ships to bear the name USS Essex, including CV-9, an aircraft carrier that earned the Presidential Unit Citation and 13 battle stars for its service in World War II and four battle stars and the Navy Unit Commendation for service during the Korean War.

USS Essex today continues the proud tradition of contributing to the story of Naval aviation,” said Fluker.  “From the ship’s participation in Operation Unified Shield helping cover the withdrawal of UN forces from Somalia in 1995 to its most recent contributions providing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to the citizens of Japan during Operation Tomadachi, Essex Sailors and Marines are always ready to answer the call.”

During his speech to the crew, Fluker said no matter what job they are assigned aboard the ship, every Sailor on the ship contributes to the success of Naval aviation and should be proud to be a part of a dynamic, successful team.

It’s important today for us to focus on the team, from whence we came and where we are going.  The future is bright, not just for aviators and Naval aviation, but for the whole Navy team” he said.

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