USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER, At Sea (NNS) -- The Sailors aboard Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) celebrated the ship's 35th birthday while also honoring the birthday of the ship's namesake with a ceremony held in the foc'sle, Oct. 16.
The ceremony was held to honor the legacies and accomplishments of the man and the ship.
Dwight D. Eisenhower was born Oct. 14, 1890. The ship was commissioned Oct. 18, 1977. The date of the IKE's ceremony was chosen to celebrate both at the same time.
During the ship's celebration, Eisenhower's commanding officer, Capt. Marcus Hitchcock, spoke about the accomplishments of Dwight D. Eisenhower.
"Through hard work and a clear dedication to commitment on his part, he rose through the ranks to five-star general," said Hitchcock at the ceremony. "He transformed his time. He transformed his country. And he transformed the world."
Hitchcock said that, in his estimation, more than 60,000 Sailors have served aboard Ike, both as part of the ship's crew and with the air wing over the part 35 years. These Sailors have upheld a tradition of achievement in line with the late president's legacy.
"[These Sailors] continue to improve the warfighting capability of this ship and air wing team," said Hitchcock. "I'm very proud to be a part of this legacy of excellence."
The assembled Sailors watched a video presentation on the life of both Dwight D. Eisenhower the man and USS Dwight D. Eisenhower the ship.
Dwight David Eisenhower rose from humble origins in Kansas to become the supreme commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces in Europe during World War II. He gave the order that sent more than 150,000 Allied troops across the English Channel to begin liberating Europe on D-Day, June 6, 1944.
Eisenhower was elected the 34th president of the United States in 1952. During his eight years in office, he supported school integration, strengthened NATO and created what would come to be called the Eisenhower Interstate System, the world's first super highway system.
"It is amazing to think about all the things he did," said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class (SW) Andrew Brennan. "What he did in World War II was unbelievable. But then think about all the programs he started as president that still exist, like NASA and the Interstate system. His legacy is amazing."
USS Dwight D. Eisenhower was commissioned in Norfolk, Va., the second in the line of Nimitz-class carriers. In the 35 years since her commissioning, the aircraft carrier has been involved in several notable events.
IKE served off the coast of Iran as part of Operation Eagle Claw during the Iran Hostage Crisis of 1980. The ship was a test platform for early joint-service integration efforts by embarking the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division in 1994 during Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti. Later that same year, Ike again made history when women first deployed as crew members on a U.S. Navy combatant vessel as the ship deployed to support Operation Southern Watch and Operation Deny Flight.
"Being embarked on this ship makes me feel like I'm part of something bigger than even the Navy," said Airman Montilla Castro, assigned to the 'Pukin Dogs' of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 143. Castro is on her first deployment, and is grateful the first ship she sailed on is Ike. "It gives me pride. It makes me feel important knowing Ike's mission is still going strong.,"
Eisenhower and the squadrons of Carrier Air Wing 7 are deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations, theater security cooperation efforts and support missions for Operation Enduring Freedom.
For more news from USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn69/.