Retired Captain H. Wyman Howard, Jr., Anzio’s first commanding officer, fondly remembered how the ship came into being three decades ago.
“Four hundred young men with an average age of 20, 66% of whom had never been to sea before, raced to Anzio and brought her back alive,” Howard said during his address.
“During commissioning, I wrote the following letter to the Anzio team: ‘Today marks the most important milestone in the life of Anzio: it comes to life! …” Howard continued. “Whether you fought at Anzio’s beachhead, welded a piece of its steel, oversaw its construction, or gave us your love and support through 20 months of hard work, you are a valued member of the Anzio team. . Thank you for all the hours, hard work and sacrifices you made to make this day a reality. ”
The event comes just months after the 30th anniversary of the ship’s commissioning. Hundreds of people gathered to celebrate the ship’s distinguished history and military service. The chairman of the ceremony, Rear Adm. Tom Williams, commander of Expeditionary Strike Group Two, shared his thoughts on the CG 68 sailor.
“The operations that Anzio Sailors supported when the nation called brought tremendous significance to their lives as well as to the legacy of the United States Navy,” Williams said. “Long after we have returned safely to our loved ones, and well beyond the day we hang up our uniforms for the last time, we will have the honor to say that we sailed on board the American ship Anzio, and we will fondly remember those days of service to the earth and the people we love.
Following Williams’ remarks, Anzio’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Greg J. Piorun, Jr., spoke of the special bond forged aboard the ship over the years.
“This ceremony is the culmination of more than 30 years of Anzio’s response to our nation’s call – from her keel laid on August 21, 1989 and commissioning on May 2, 1992, to this decommissioning ceremony. “, said Piorun.
“We don’t even have time to scratch the surface of all the stories and memories that have been created by the thousands of sailors who have served on board. We are here today, however, to honor all of those stories and memories. I’ve learned throughout my tenure just how strong the Anzio bond is, I haven’t seen anything like it to date and probably won’t see anything like it again.
Anzio was built by Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Miss., and commissioned in Norfolk on May 2, 1992.
She is the second ship to bear the name Anzio and honors the Allied forces’ beachhead invasion at Anzio and Nettuno, Italy during World War II. The strategic importance of the Battle of Anzio to the overall Allied effort in Europe, however, is often underestimated. The two German corps engaged on the Anzio front were originally intended for Normandy. The success of the Allied landings on the beaches of France in June 1944 was largely due to the tenacity of the Allied forces at Anzio.
During her 30 years of service, the cruiser played an important role in the American national defense strategy.
The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser first deployed on October 20, 1994 as part of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Battle Group. During this deployment, the crew participated in operations conducted in the Mediterranean Sea, Indian Ocean, Persian Gulf, Adriatic Sea and Black Sea. It would be the first of many Anzio deployments.
Over the years, the Anzio team has supported Operation Iraqi Freedom, firing more than a dozen Tomahawk missiles on station and served as the flagship for Combined Task Force 151 supporting counter-piracy efforts off the Horn of Africa. The crew also recovered 10 US Navy sailors for transport and medical evaluations after being detained in Iran after being captured after their two Navy boats unwittingly entered Iranian waters.
“Among the countless hundreds of thousands of miles traveled to the camaraderie cemented in overseas ports of call, the only thing that remains true are the bonds that the sailors of Anzio have established among themselves and the bonds that are formed during their service together,” added Piorun.
“We are here today to break away from the dark nature of this ceremony to remember those who came before us, revitalizing the memories, so that Anzio lives on.”
After decommissioning, the ship is scheduled to be towed in November to the Navy’s inactive ship facility in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where it will be in a logistics support active status.