The Ship - All Hands - Decorations - Remembrance
As the spring of 1943 wore on, and Allied control of the Solomons solidified, Enterprise received the welcome order to return east for repair and refitting. In all likelihood, this meant an extended stay at some state-side shipyard, the prospect of which improved the mood of all on board immediately. On 1 May 1943, she sailed from Espiritu Santo for Pearl Harbor, expecting only a brief call there before departing for the U.S. west coast.
On arrival in Pearl Harbor a week later, however, her orders were modified, much to the crew's dismay. As task forces dissolved and reformed, new air groups had to be trained, and it became Enterprise's duty for the next ten weeks to train them.
In late May, however, came a ceremony that helped offset the frustration brought on by the training regimen. On the morning of the 27th, Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz boarded Enterprise. Nimitz can be credited with plotting the American strategy at Midway, and guiding the Pacific fleet through the critical first year of the war. As the men in dress whites stood in orderly rows on the flight deck, Nimitz awarded a number of individual decorations.
Then he presented Enterprise and her men with a unit decoration: the first Presidential Unit Citation ever awarded to a carrier.
President Franklin Roosevelt authorized the Citation on February 6, 1942, intending it to be awarded in recognition of outstanding performance by a ship, aircraft or other naval or marine unit, against any armed enemy of the United States. Enterprise and her men were well qualified, to say the least.
The Citation was presented to Captain Samuel P. Ginder, Enterprise's commanding officer at the time. Ginder later ordered a replica of the Citation painted in six inch high letters on the island for all to enjoy:
For consistently outstanding performance and distinguished achievement during repeated action against enemy Japanese forces in the Pacific war area, December 7, 1941, to November 15, 1942. Participating in nearly every major carrier engagement in the first year of the war, the Enterprise and her air group, exclusive of far-flung destruction of hostile shore installations throughout the battle area, did sink or damage on her own a total of 35 Japanese vessels and shoot down a total of 185 Japanese aircraft. Her aggressive spirit and superb combat efficiency are fitting tribute to the officers and men who so gallantly established her as an ahead bulwark in the defense of the American nation.
Some time later, a bulkhead in the carrier's hangar deck was decorated with the war record for which Enterprise had earned the citation:
PRESIDENTIAL UNIT CITATION
DEC. 7th 1941 NOV. 15th 1942
|ACTION AGAINST JAPAN'S FORCES
|J A P L O S S E S
|GILBERT AND MARSHALL ISLANDS RAID
|WAKE ISLAND RAID
|MARCUS ISLAND RAID
|DOOLITTLE TOKYO RAID
|BATTLE OF MIDWAY
|OCCUPATION OF GUADALCANAL
|BATTLE OF STEWART ISLANDS
|BATTLE OF SANTA CRUZ ISLANDS
|BATTLE OF SOLOMON ISLANDS
|(MINOR ENGAGEMENTS NOT INCLUDED) TOTAL
|* DESTRUCTIONS OF SHORE INSTALLATIONS
|Enterprise Air Group
VB-6 VF-6 VS-6 VT-6 VB-3 VS-5 VT-3
|AIR GROUP TEN
VB-10 VF-10 VS-10 VT-10 VB-20