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U.S. 7TH FLEET AREA OF RESPONSIBILITY - Civil service mariners on board USNS Amelia Earhart (T-AKE 6) proudly celebrate the ship’s namesake's accomplishments and her adventurous, undaunted – and in a word, intrepid – approach to mission accomplishment.
“The ship honors aviation pioneer Amelia Mary Earhart for her courage, vision and groundbreaking achievements, both in aviation and for women,” said Military Sealift Command leadership in advance of the ship’s commissioning in 2008.
During the commissioning ceremony Dr. Sally Ride, the first American woman to orbit Earth when she flew aboard Space Shuttle Challenger, delivered the keynote address. Earhart’s niece, Amy Kleppner, served as the ship’s sponsor at the time.
The dry cargo and ammunition ship has been a critical part of the Navy’s Combat Logistics Force for the last 13 years. Every day while underway, Amelia Earhart allows the Navy to maintain a worldwide forward presence by delivering ammunition, food, fuel and other dry cargo to U.S. and partner ships at sea. Like the pioneer aviator, the ship operates independently and for extended periods.
Earhart’s name became a household word in 1932 when she became the first woman--and second person--to fly solo across the Atlantic, flying from Harbor Grace, Newfoundland, to Londonderry, Ireland. That year, she received the Distinguished Flying Cross from the U.S. Congress, the Cross of Knight of the Legion of Honor from the French government, and the Gold Medal of the National Geographic Society from President Herbert Hoover. In January 1935, Earhart became the first person to fly solo across the Pacific Ocean from Honolulu to Oakland, Calif. Later that year, she soloed from Los Angeles to Mexico City and back to Newark, N.J. In July 1936, Earhart took delivery of a Lockheed 10E "Electra," financed by Purdue University and started planning her around-the-world flight.
“Several of us are quite proud to be on a ship named after a woman like her,” said Second Officer and Navigator Katherine DeMoure-Aldrich.
“Our motto is Esprit Intrepide meaning, of course, Intrepid Spirit. I personally like to remember that motto when things get tough and try to take personal ownership of it.
“If she could be adventurous and fearless, then I can certainly try.”
The ship’s crew honors Earhart by donning its passageways with photos which capture significant events in her life and career.
“I remember when the Amelia Earhart was being built and hoped that one day I could sail on her,” DeMoure-Aldrich.
“I definitely dug in once I got here twelve years later and won't leave until I go on my next adventure.”
DeMoure-Aldrich claims that next adventure will be her retirement. Fellow crew member Capers Hamilton says he’s not going anywhere until he retires as well. He’s been on board since the beginning. The plank owner says he, too, has a special attachment to the ship.
“[After so long on board,] you feel that you've been able to accomplish things for the ship and you become fond of and attached emotionally to the ship,” said Hamilton who serves as the ship’s carpenter.
“You know the ship's secrets. You 'feel' when things start to happen and where it's occurring.”
As the ship’s carpenter, Hamilton truly has a special connection to the ship, making sure it’s properly maintained to carry out its mission. In addition to the physical attributes of the ship, he is also focused on the soul of the ship and a legacy of diversity, which Earhart clearly embodied.
“I'd like to see all the young people coming into the outfit to take an interest in the ship to which they are assigned and always treat each crewmember as your brother or sister, without malice, no matter what anyone's attitudes are.
“You should always remember that everyone is different, and we need to adapt to each other's different attitudes and ways of life,” Hamilton said.
That’s a mission statement and sentiment Earhart would probably appreciate.
“No kind action ever stops with itself. One kind action leads to another. Good example is followed,” the aviator once said.
“A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.”
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