May 21, 1947|
Our Own Battleship Comes Home at Last
The New Jersey has come home.
Without fanfare or ceremony, the great battleship which carried this state's name to the farthest Pacific reaches slipped into the Bayonne naval depot last week, her fighting career perhaps at an end.
Launched at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on the first anniversary of Pearl Harbor, the New Jersey, with her sister ship the Iowa, was the first of a new class of $100 million superbattleships, the mightiest afloat.
Censorship veiled her movements for nearly two years. Then in October, 1944 it was announced she had joined the Pacific fleet the previous January and had gone into action immediately.
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Her first "blooding" was at the invasion of Kwajalein. Then she vanished into the Pacific mists again, till in March, 1945, Admiral Nimitz singled her out as playing a "powerful" part in the advance on Japan.
In July of that year it was disclosed she had taken part in the carrier strikes at Tokyo and Yokohama and the attacks on the Ryukyus. She had covered landings at Iwo Jima.
Eniwetok, Truk, Palau, Hollandia, Saipan - all knew the silhouette of "Big J." She fought around the Philippines, at Guam, Peleliu, Wake, Okinawa, Formosa.
At every far corner where Japanese struggled against the American flood the New Jersey and her 16-inch rifles were present.
She bore a charmed life. No enemy shell ever touched her.
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And on Sept. 17, 1945, she steamed into Tokyo harbor in the climactic moment of the Pacific war in which she played so "powerful" a part.
Many South Jerseymen are proud to have served on the New Jersey. They hope that her fighting days are ended, that she will remain unscarred forever.
And after four and a half historic years, the whole state echoes the words spoken by Governor Edison at her launching:
"...there comes to the hearts of all true Jerseymen a feeling of reverence and pride...we know she will give a good account of herself."
That account has been given.