USS Nevada battleship’s service celebrated

A centennial ceremony for the battleship named after the Battle Born state brought a full-throated “Battle Ready” shout out Friday in Carson City.

The celebration ceremony at Nevada’s Capitol was replete with speeches from dignitaries or their representatives and an unveiling of a memorial honoring the USS Nevada battleship. It was punctuated by a bravura performance from the crowd on hand when Navy officer David Stephenson, chief of the boat for the current USS Nevada submarine, told everyone of a tradition on that submarine. He then ran audience members through the drill.

Stephenson said “battle ready’ is the loud response from more than 300 of his sailors upon hearing “battle born,” which is on the state flag due to statehood for Nevada during the Civil War. The ready response must be repeated if it isn’t loud enough, which he said he didn’t want Friday.

As Stephenson ended his brief remarks, he called out the two words about the state’s birth, and the 150 present at the Capitol made it loud and clear there would be no necessity to repeat the drill.

People attending, many of them veterans, were regaled with tales of the battleship’s service from Pearl Harbor to the Normandy invasion, and from Iwo Jima to Okinawa in World War II. It also was in service also for World War I. Carson City Mayor Robert Crowell, a Navy veteran of the Vietnam conflict, lauded the ship in 10 words.

“Perhaps the greatest warship ever to sail the high seas,” he said, making that case as he spoke briefly before leading the Pledge of Allegiance. Crowell also was among the dignitaries arrayed behind the memorial when it was unveiled not long after the speeches on the east side grounds behind the Capitol.

USS Nevada, BB 36, was put into service with a launch ceremony in Quincy, Mass., on July 11, 1914. The launch honors were handled by the 11-year-old niece of then Nevada Gov. Tasker L. Oddie, according to Judge Chuck Weller, Reno Navy League historian, who was among Friday’s speakers for the centennial event here.

Craig Williams, president of the Reno Navy League and Friday’s master of ceremonies, said Gov. Oddie on that launch date exactly 100 years ago stated Nevadans would follow the battleship’s odyssey with close interest. Friday’s ceremony, an event also recognized as part of Nevada’s Sesquicentennial Birthday celebration, showed how sound a prediction Oddie had made.

Sens. Harry Reid and Dean Heller, Rep. Mark Amodei, Gov. Brian Sandoval and Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki all sent representatives to deliver remarks, read proclamations or offer up memorabilia as part of the celebration.

Judge Weller in his talk recounted the storied World War II career of the battleship with Battle Born ties, saying it was crippled but still operable at Pearl Harbor despite a death toll of 50 crew members and 109 more being wounded during the Japanese raid on Dec. 7, 1941.

“The Nevada was the only ship — the only battleship — that was able to get under way,” he said, adding it literally led the United States into World War II.


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