kokomoperspective.com/salute to veterans
Nov.10,2010 Kokomo Perspective
hen Dennis Ehase joined the U.S.Navy in 1995, hewas following in the foot-steps of his grandfathers’footsteps. Growing up, he’dheard their stories.“My grandpa Jack Daviswas a prisoner of war inKorea,” Ehase said. Daviswas a Marine. “He said therewere days when you’d wakeand pray you’d have food forthat day. You thought maybe you’dgetsomericeandyou’dhope — you’d hope — therewere maggots in it just tohave some protein.”Davisdidn’ttalkalotabouthis time as a POW, Ehasesaid. Most soldiers don’t.Ehase knows why: Soldierssee things while serving theircountryandkeepingAmericafree, things that are hard tothink about, let alone talk toothers about.You see, having served intheNavyfrom1995-2004,andwas stationed aboard theUSS Enterprise (CVN-65),Ehase now has stories of hisown.“I joined the Navy becauseI knew I wasn’t ready for col-lege,” he said. “It was a tightrace between the Air Forceand the Navy. I was 18. Iasked, ‘Where can I party themost and find the most beau-tiful girls?’ They said theNavy.” He laughed. “It wasn’tthe best logical decision.”There was another reason— the real reason — he joined the Navy.“I figured if my grandpasserved to make sure I wassafe then it was my turn tomake sure they were safenow that they’re older,” hesaid. And he doesn’t regret thedecision at all.“Ibecomeanelectricianbybeing in the Navy. It taughtme discipline. It allowed meto get the basics for what Iconsider being successful inlife.”Life aboard a ship is awhole different life.“It was a floating city,” hesaid. “That’s no joke. Therewere more than 6,000 peopleon the ship.”First he had to get his “sealegs.”“I still got seasick the firstcouple of days,” Ehase said.But it didn’t take long beforehe was used to it. In fact, hesaid, “I kinda miss the life ona ship. I’ve been all over theeastern side of the world, pretty much.”While aboard the USS En-terprise,Ehaseworkedonallthe navigational equipmentand all the communicationdevices, phones, GYRO com- passes.
Sept. 11, 2001
On Sept. 11, Ehase was onthe USS Enterprise. The shipwas headed for South Africa.“I’ll never forget. We werewatchingthefirstTwinTowerbuilding burn and then a plane hit the second tower.It’s a video everyone remem-bers. Our captain said, ‘We’regoing back to the Gulf imme-diately before the U.S. Secre-tary of Defense had to ask usto go, we were on our way.It was 1954. Congress au-thorized the construction of theworld’sfirstnuclear-pow-ered aircraft carrier, USS En-terprise (CVN-65). It was theeighth U.S. ship to bear thename Enterprise since thefirst days of the AmericanRevolutionary WarThe giant ship was to bepowered by eight nuclear re-actors, two for each of itsfour propeller shafts. Thiswasadaringundertaking,forneverbeforehadtwonuclearreactorseverbeenharnessedtogether. As such, when theengineers first started plan-ning the ship’s propulsionsystem, they were uncertainhowitwouldwork,orevenif itwouldworkaccordingtheirtheories.Materialsusedbytheship-yard included 60,923 tons of steel;1,507tonsofaluminum;230 miles of pipe and tubing;and1,700tonsofone-quarter-inch welding rods. The mate-rials were supplied frommore than 800 companies.Nine hundred shipyard engi-neers and designers createdthe ship on paper, and themillions of blueprints theycreated, laid end-to-end,would stretch 2,400 miles, orfrom Miami to Los Angeles.Three years and ninemonths after constructionbegan, Enterprise was readyto present to the world as“The First, The Finest” supercarrier.The newly christened En-terprise left the shipyard forsix days of builders’ andNavy’s pre-acceptance trails.The new super carrier’s per-formance exceeded theNavy’s most optimistic ex- pectations.Enterprise broke all previ-ousrecordsforspeedwhenitexceeded 40 miles-per-hourduring initial trials. At the commissioning of Enterprise, the world’s firstnuclear-poweredaircraftcar-rier, then-Secretary of theNavy John B. Connally Jr.,called it a worthy successorto the highly decorated sev-enthUSSEnterpriseofWorldWar II.In October 1962, Enter- prise was dispatched to itsfirst international crisis. En-terpriseandothershipsintheSecondFleetsetupaquaran-tine of all military equipmentunder shipment to commu-nist Cuba. The blockade was put in place on Oct. 24, andthe first Soviet ship wasstoppedthenextday.OnOct.28, Soviet leader Krushchev
Ehase recounts his time aboard the USS Enterprise
Serving by sea
The first, the fastest
by Lisa Fipps
About the ship
Dennis Ehase was aboard the USS Enterprise when thisphoto was taken to celebrate its 40th year.
MEDALSAND AWARDS —
Dennis Ehase receiving theNavy Achievement Medal. He also received the NavyGood Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal,Armed Forced Expeditionary Medal, Armed ForcesService Medal, Global War on Terrorism ExpeditionaryMedal Ribbon, Gold War on Terrorism Service MedalRibbon, Sea Service Ribbon and the NATO Medal.
It’smyfirmbeliefthateveryable-bodiedmanshouldgiveback tohiscommunity,whetherthroughthemilitaryorasapoliceofficerorfirefighter— somethingthatgivesback.DennisEhase,Navyveteran