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100-Year-Old WWII Veterans to Recall Service at Escort Carrier Symposium

Escort carrier USS Ommaney Bay, July 1944 (USN)
Escort carrier USS Ommaney Bay, July 1944 (USN)

Published Aug 25, 2023 10:08 PM by The Maritime Executive

 The Escort Carrier Sailor and Airmen Association (www.ECSAA.org/Program) with the support of the National History and Heritage Command of the US Navy and the Naval Order of the United States National Capital Commandery has solidified its program for a symposium and Final Reunion Convention/Memorial Service focused on the history of the Escort Carrier and those who served on them, flew off of them or sailed together with them.

The Historical Symposium is set for Friday August 25, at the Doubletree by Hilton, Crystal City will feature an impressive lineup of speakers.  (Attendees may register at www.ecsaa.org/symposium.)  

Historian David Winkler will serve as moderator. Author of the the forthcoming America’s First Aircraft Carrier (Naval Institute Press, 2024), Winkler will look at the development of aircraft carriers and how USS Langley (CV 1) performed many CVE missions in the various Fleet Problems.

Cdr. Stan Fisher, who teaches history at the U.S. Naval Academy and recently published Sustaining the Carrier War (Naval Institute Press, 2023) intends to briefly discuss the logistics mission-particularly with the Copahee (CVE 12) but also in relation to the aircraft repair and overhaul units (AROU) located Pacific islands. He will also discuss the manning, daily flight deck ops, and aircraft maintenance department set up aboard CVEs.

NHHC historian Guy Nasuti whose recent publication on Kamikazes is featured above, will focus on specific escort carriers and their operational roles in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. He intends to focus on Bogue and St. Lo for World War II and Tripoli and Card for Vietnam.

Charlie Niemeyer, the former Director of the Marine Corps History Division, will focus on the two CVEs in Korea (USS Saipan and USS Badoeng Strait) and will argue that CVEs were forerunners of today’s large deck amphibs.

Cdr. Derek Powles of the Royal Navy will add to the historical narrative portion of the program in a featured short presentation to discuss the contribution made by Royal Navy escort carriers.   

Travis Bickford will represent the Library of Congress Veterans Oral History Program which features dozens of interviews with escort carrier veterans. As such he intends to conduct a roundtable with attending veterans of WWII, including at least two 100-year olds.

The concluding Keynote of the Day 1 Historical Symposium will be presented by Bradley A. Krueger will focus on underwater archaeology at the Naval History and Heritage Command’s Underwater Archaeology Branch and he will then discuss two known archaeological examples of CVEs: USS St. Lo and the recently discovered USS Ommaney Bay. For each CVE, he will provide a brief vessel history, recount the loss, detail the discovery, and highlight key aspects/features of the wreck site.

The FINAL Reunion Convention will continue Friday night with a reception for full conference attendees, where veterans, their spouses, widows and family will be in a relaxed setting and available to mingle with visiting members of the press.

On Saturday August 26, 2023, the Conventioneers will begin the day with a driving tour of the monuments and sights of DC to arrive to the National Museum of the US Navy for a Memorial Service and historical preservation re-commissioning event.  The ECSAA Board of Governors will be joined by the following in support of the Memorial Event:

  • Chaplain Regina Johnson LT, CHC, USN, Staff Chaplain, Arlington National Cemetery
  • John C. Swift, Director, National Museum of the USN
  • Keynote: The 30 years of Escort Carrier history by Samuel J. Cox (SES), RADM, USN (Ret), Director of Naval History, Curator for the Navy, Director Naval History and Heritage Command
  • Memorial Service for those who have crossed the bar.  Supported by U.S. Navy Members Color Guard and U.S. Navy Band Bugler. (Bell tolled at reading of each name.)

Following the Memorial, a Final Reunion Banquet will be conducted featuring a talk by Samuel J. Cox (SES), RADM, USN (Ret), Director of Naval History, Curator for the Navy, Director Naval History and Heritage Command.

The Escort Carrier History Symposium, Memorial and Final Banquet speech will be recorded and posted within two weeks at the www.ecsaa.org website.

Space is limited at the events, and attendance of working press is available by invitation/advance arrangement only. 

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