The U.S. Navy's forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) honored USS Lexington (CV 2) and commemorated her loss with a wreath-laying ceremony Aug. 6 in the Coral Sea.
Lexington was scuttled by USS Phelps (DD 360) May 8, 1942, during the Battle of Coral Sea to prevent it from being captured by enemy hands after being severely damaged by Japanese fighter planes. The Lexington was the first U.S. aircraft carrier lost in World War II.
"On this bright, sunny day, we gather to lay a wreath in honor of the sacrifice of the sailors, chiefs and officers who gave their lives and to remember one of our earliest aircraft carriers, USS Lexington, having sank here 71 years ago," said Capt. Greg Fenton, George Washington's commanding officer, according to a news release.
Fenton, Capt. Carlos Sardiello, George Washington's executive officer, and Cmdr. Daniel Mode, George Washington's command religious ministries department officer, laid the wreath at Lexington's resting place.
"This morning we've gathered our crew to honor the sailors of USS Lexington who valiantly fought during the Battle of Coral Sea," Mode said. "May we never take for granted the precious freedoms that we have from those who we've lost who ensured that those freedoms are enjoyed by our country and the countries in the Pacific."
Lexington was commissioned Dec. 14, 1927, and was assigned to the U.S. Pacific fleet. Together with USS Saratoga (CV 1), the ships participated in exercises that were used to develop and refine carrier tactics that are still used today.
Lexington lost 216 crewmembers during the attack and evacuated 2,735, but despite her losses, the ship's great contribution has been a pioneering role in developing the naval aviators and techniques that resulted in the victory in the Pacific.
"As we lay a wreath in her honor today, may we never forget the sacrifice that was made by those who helped forge the path of freedom and democracy to ensure that liberty and justice is preserved for a world in need of peace," said Lt. Glen Kitzman, George Washington's CRMD division officer.