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12-13-07, 10:09 AM
Carriers critical to nation's defense

December 13, 2007

Following the sneak attack bombing of our military installations at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on Dec. 7, 1941, the commander of the Imperialist Japanese Fleet executing the bombing, Admiral Yamamoto, asked his officers, "Where are their carriers?"

Also, following the initial attack on our Midway Base in June 1942, the question was posed by the Japanese fleet commander, "Where are their carriers?"

Carrier aviation became a major offensive and defensive naval operation throughout World War II and has developed into our major first line of defense, and offense if necessary, in today's military.

So, we ask the same question: "Where are the carriers?"

To be specific, I refer to my weekly edition of Navy Times, which always has a report on where our United States Navy is deployed. My most recent report is that our carriers are deployed as follows:

• Pacific Ocean -- Carriers USS Abraham Lincoln, USS Chester Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan. These three carriers are conducting operations with the Marines aboard the USS Tarawa.

• Atlantic Ocean -- Carriers USS George Washington and USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.

• Mediterranean Sea -- Carrier USS Harry S. Truman, lead ship in a full Navy Strike Group.

• Arabian Sea -- Carrier USS Enterprise, lead ship in a full Navy Strike Group.

• South China Sea -- Carrier USS Kitty Hawk, lead ship in a full Navy Strike Group. The Kitty Hawk is based at Yokusaka, Japan.

In addition to our carriers and their strike groups on station worldwide, naval units like the Seabees, Naval Explosive Ordnance Disposal Units, Riverine Squadrons, Mine Countermeasure Units, Marines aboard Navy assault ships like USS Tarawa and USS Wasp, are deployed worldwide.

Active duty U.S. Navy totaled 331,506 -- 51,239 officers and 280,267 enlisted. A major reserve naval force is also maintained for mobilization when needed. Naval personnel on deployment totaled 61,895. Of our 289 ships, 107 were deployed, along with 21 attack submarines and more than 4,000 aircraft.

As our days end and we retire, we can sleep soundly, knowing our Navy is strategically deployed worldwide, at the ready should they be challenged. We cherish our freedoms, earned and preserved by past generations, and can be proud to know those freedoms are being protected by those men and women serving on station at strategic locations worldwide.

I report on the deployment of our Navy, but want to also give recognition to the similar deployment of our Army, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. They are also deployed worldwide, at the ready to defend our freedoms.

Like our community police and fire departments, our military is on duty 24/7. Remember them this holiday season.

* * * * *

Thanks to our United States Coast Guard, the USCGC Mackinaw brought a load of Christmas trees to Chicago Navy Pier on Dec. 3, keeping alive the maritime tradition of bringing trees from upper Wisconsin and Michigan to Chicago for needy children.

The tradition failed when the Rouse Simmons Christmas tree ship sank in 1912. When the ship did not arrive, the children had to leave the pier without a Christmas tree. It was then that a young girl of the Flesvig family said, "It won't be Christmas without a Christmas tree."

The Chicago Maritime Community again raised $90,000 to cover the cost of the more than 1,000 trees brought to Chicago Navy Pier this year. Dave Truitt, founding chairman of the Christmas Ship Committee and a former tall-ship captain, and the Chicago Maritime Community are to be commended for this annual program.