The Ship - All Hands - Decorations - Remembrance
On December 9, 2000 - a clear, crisp winter day - eleven veterans of Enterprise CV-6 joined Dr. Raymond Z. Darakjian, mayor of New Jersey's River Vale Township, Rear Admiral Richard Naughton, who commanded Enterprise CVN-65 in 1993, and other dignitaries to dedicate the stern plate of Enterprise CV-6, in its new resting place in River Vale's Veterans' Memorial Park.
The stern plate - a massive steel work, 16 feet long and boldly lettered "Enterprise" - is the only significant remaining piece of the Big E's hull. A River Vale resident, Henry Hoffman, directed the scrapping of Enterprise at Kearny, New Jersey, between 1958 and 1960. Cognizant of the unique historical importance of the ship he was dismantling, Hoffman took over 150 photographs of Enterprise before and while she was scrapped. He also took possession of the ship's stern plate, and three bulkheads on which were painted records of Enterprise's many actions during the war.
The bulkheads were lost to history following Mr. Hoffman's death in 1965. The stern plate, however, had found a home behind the center field fence of a Little League ballpark, which was named for Mr. Hoffman after his death. There it remained for the next 35 years, a prominent but increasingly out-of-place memorial to the Big E and her men.
"Although the weather was in the 30's it seemed to me that everyone was impressed at the nice ceremony and I did not see one person leave before the affair was completed." Bob Secor
"The crowd was large. Even though we were amongst strangers it felt as if we were with old friends. Considering the number of people you could hear a pin drop if it had." Catherine Luis
"Exceptional, Exhilarating, Exciting, Ennobling, Emotional... Today was definitely an 'E' day, in Every way." Richard A. Mathsen
|Photos courtesy of Robert Secor.
In 1995, as local veterans began plans for what is now River Vale's Veterans' Memorial Park, a dispute arose between the township and the Little League Association over the placement and care-taking of the stern plate. Though both parties agreed to binding arbitration in November 1998, the ruling to place the stern plate in the township's care didn't come until July 2000. Following the ruling, the plate was lifted from the supports which had held it for nearly 40 years, cleaned and repainted, and placed on permanent display in the township's Veterans' Memorial Park on October 2, 2000.
Following the presentation of Colors by the Navy Honor Guard of the Colts Neck, NJ, Naval Weapons Station and eight other participating color guards, River Vale Mayor Dr. Raymond Z. Darakjian opened the proceedings. Following in turn were New Jersey Senator Jon Corzine, State Senator Gerald Cardinale, and the day's guest speaker, Rear Admiral Richard Naughton. An appropriate backdrop for the entire event, Enterprise's Commissioning Day flag (which first flew May 12, 1938) fluttered from the park's flag pole.
The ceremony closed with the playing of Taps by Daniel Melius, a benediction by Chaplain Aaron Jefferson, and the retiring of Colors. Afterwards, a reception was held at a nearby restaurant.
Attending Enterprise CV-6 veterans included:
Participating Color Guards:
Guests of Honor: