Pentagon retires aircraft carrier


POSTED: Sunday, February 01, 2009

More than 2,000 people were expected yesterday at the decommissioning ceremony for the 47-year-old aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk in Bremerton, Wash. The conventionally powered carrier was among the first of the nation's supercarriers and was built in 1961 for $265 million. Named for the North Carolina town where aviation was born, the carrier originally was home-ported in San Diego before it was moved to Japan in 1998 as the nation's only forward operating aircraft carrier.

The carrier sent aircraft into combat over Vietnam, Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan. Ceremonies decommissioning the carrier was held at Naval Base Kitsap's Pier D. The Kitty Hawk was relieved in Japan by the nuclear carrier USS George Washington in mid-2008 and arrived in Bremerton's Puget Sound Naval Shipyard on Sept. 2.

  Pvt. Sean McCune was posthumously promoted to private first class following a memorial ceremony Jan. 18 at Forward Operating Brassfield-Mora near Samarra, Iraq.

During the service, Lt. Col. Samuel Whitehurst, who commands the 25th Infantry Division's 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, said: “;His time may have been short with us, but the way that he touched all of us and the people of Samarra will never be forgotten. In his honor, we will continue to follow his example and dedicate ourselves to serving with honor, accomplishing the mission, and serving something greater than ourselves.”;

McCune, who had enlisted in the Army in April, was killed Jan. 11. He was assigned in August to the 25th Infantry Division's 3rd Brigade, 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment. He had been in Iraq for only a month.

The 3rd Brigade, which e-mailed Whitehurst's eulogy to the Star-Bulletin, said McCune's death is still under investigation.

  The Pearl Harbor-based guided-missile destroyers USS Chung-Hoon, USS Hopper and USS Paul Hamilton left Jan. 20 as part of a scheduled deployment to the Western Pacific.

The Hopper, commanded by Cmdr. Timothy J. Kott; and the Paul Hamilton, led by Cmdr. Brent Smith, departed as part of the Mid-Pacific Surface Combatant Operational Employment Program, which calls for nine of the 11 Hawaii-based warships to focus on Western Pacific deployments.

The Chung-Hoon, skippered by Cmdr. Michael A. McCartney, joined the USS Boxer Expeditionary Strike Group.

The ships each have a crew of about 350 officers and enlisted personnel.



Camp Smith: Brig. Gen. Peter “;Skipper”; Pawling, the commander of the Hawaii Air National Guard 154th Wing, will become the mobilization assistant to the commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, replacing Maj. Gen. Vern Miyagi.


”;In the Military”; was compiled from wire reports and other sources by reporter Gregg K. Kakesako, who covers military affairs for the Star-Bulletin. He can be reached by phone at 294-4075 or by e-mail at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).