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USS Constitution Commemorates 75th Anniversary of D-Day Underway
Story by PO3 Casey S Scoular on 06/07/2019
In commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the Allied invasion of Normandy, USS Constitution and her crew took more than 350 guests underway, including World War II-era veterans and active-duty Soldiers, from the ship’s berth in Charlestown, Mass., June 7.
The purpose of the underway is to commemorate the Battle of Normandy by focusing on the significance of the events that occurred 75 years ago and honoring those veterans who fought on that day and throughout the war.
“This is one of the best things that has happened to me in my entire life,” said Douglas Bryant, a WWII Navy veteran. “I am so honored to be here aboard the oldest commissioned ship in the Navy and to be surrounded by so many shipmates and veterans. I am at a loss for words. I am so grateful to be aboard Constitution today with all of these patriotic people.”
Constitution navigated down the Charles River Basin and through Boston’s Inner Harbor. Over 50 Soldiers from the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Systems Center (NSSC) in Natick, Mass., which included soldiers from the Combat Capabilities Development Command Soldier Center (CCDC SC) and U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine (USARIEM), were also aboard.
“The most rewarding part about the underway today is being able to celebrate the partnership between the Army and the Navy,” said Brig. Gen. Vincent Malone, deputy commanding general of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC) and senior commander of NSSC. “The invasion of Normandy was a joint operation with thousands of ships, thousands of aircraft, Sailors, paratroopers—all branches of the service were involved. Since then, the Army continues to collaborate with the Navy and always will.”
During the underway, Constitution Sailors and NSSC Soldiers participated in climbing the ship’s masts as well as 19th-century pike drills.
“I was able to lead the Soldiers that were aboard today in pike drills and it was a great experience,” said Naval Aircrewman 2nd Class Charles Hardmon, assigned to USS Constitution. “The partnership between the Army and the Navy now is filled with friendly rivalry and, on a day like today, I am glad we are able to come together with a common goal: to honor the events that happened on D-Day.”
Constitution fired a 21-gun salute which was returned by the 101st Field Artillery Regiment of the Massachusetts National Guard near Fort Independence on Castle Island. Fort Independence is a state park that served as a defensive position for Boston Harbor from 1634 to 1962.
“I feel very honored and special to be part of the event aboard Constitution today and even more so because I was in Normandy on Omaha beach earlier in the week,” said U.S. Army Capt. Erika Andresen, judge advocate assigned to NSSC. “To be here and to commemorate the anniversary of the landings at D-Day is an amazing honor. The partnership between the Army and the Navy is highlighted on days like today because of the amphibious assault that happened on D-Day, so there’s a symbiotic relationship between the two and for the Army to be involved with this event has been very important.”
The ship also fired an additional 17 rounds as she passed U.S. Coast Guard Sector Boston, the former site of Edmund Hartt’s shipyard where Constitution was built.
Each round of this salute honored the 16 states that comprised The United States when Constitution launched in 1797 and one in honor of the ship herself.
“I think it was awesome that we had Army Soldiers aboard today,” said Seaman Ashley Watson, assigned to USS Constitution. “I come from an Army family and I am the odd person out because I joined the Navy. I experience the friendly rivalry every time I go home. However, days like today bring us all back to the mentality that we are on one team and there is only one fight and I think that is great.”
Following the second salute, Constitution’s crew and NSSC Soldiers paid tribute to the fallen of WWII with a wreath laying towards the World War II-era Fletcher-class destroyer USS Cassin Young (DD 793). At the conclusion of the wreath laying, members of the 1812 Marine Guard Riflemen fired a 3-gun volley followed by the playing of taps.
“The Navy has enjoyed a close and cooperative relationship with the Army since the days of the American Revolution, when men from Marblehead and Gloucester ferried General Washington’s troops across the Delaware river on Christmas Eve so they could conduct the raids on Princeton and Trenton, New Jersey,” said Cmdr. Nathaniel R. Shick, 75th commanding officer of USS Constitution. “Since then, in every conflict that the United States has been in, the Navy has been there side by side with the Army, making sure the Army has the logistics and firepower needed to stay wherever they need to be until the job is done. Today, commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Normandy, we honor that cooperation by having our Sailors and Soldiers aboard USS Constitution, America’s Ship of State.”
USS Constitution, the world’s oldest commissioned warship afloat, played a crucial role in the Barbary Wars and the War of 1812, actively defending sea lanes from 1797 to 1855.
Designated America’s Ship of State, Constitution and her crew engage in community outreach and education about the ship’s history and the importance of naval power to more than 500,000 visitors each year.