Seventy-year-old memories were swapped during an annual reunion dinner on Saturday. After a week of visiting local military sites, 14 veterans who served aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor gathered in Rye Brook at the Doral Arrowwood Hotel.
“It’s really hard for me to keep it together on an evening like this,” said John Dunbar, who is among the veterans. “There’s a lot of emotions when I see the guys who I spent time on the Enterprise with. Just seeing them and getting to chat is great. We really appreciate being recognized like this.”
The men were recognized with a Westchester County Certificate of Service. Four U.S. Navy chiefs presented the Navy flag during the dinner as well.
“It’s been said that those who serve know tragedy, know joy, know family life, know what god and country mean. As a group of men who served during the greatest generation ever, you sacrificed your time away from families, some of your shipmates did not make it back home and you served aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise (CV-6), the most decorated warship and the only carrier to serve throughout the WWII period,” said Westchester County Veteran’s Service Agency Director Vito Pinto. “I had the good fortune of serving aboard the present Enterprise and we were the first nuclear task force into combat in the Vietnam era. Our service pales to the service you gentlemen did and those ladies and children you left at home.”
The Enterprise was the most decorated ship of World War II. During this past few days, these Enterprise veterans visited several military sites and one of their stops was to see the only major remaining piece from the Enterprise’s hull, the stern plate at the Veterans Memorial Park in River Vale, NJ — after World War II, Enterprise was scrapped by the government.
Dunbar was born and raised in Ardsley. Dunbar left Ardsley High School when he was a senior to enlist in the Navy and served on the ship for a year. He now lives in Chatham with his wife and grandsons.
Dunbar’s son, David, is a representative of the U.S.S. Enterprise (CV6) Association, a non-profit membership organization dedicated to preserving the unique history and memory of the ship and those who served on her.
The association was one of organizers and funders of the reunion.
“We chose Westchester because it’s a beautiful place to visit and it’s close to so many attractions that the group wanted to see,” said David Dunbar. “This trip means a lot to these veterans and their families, so we try to keep costs as low as possible. We are grateful to County Executive Astorino, Greenberg Traurig and Liberty Lines for coming through for us.”
County Executive Robert P. Astorino and the Westchester County Veterans Service Agency arranged transportation for these visiting veterans. Greenberg Traurig, LLP, an international law firm with offices in White Plains, and Liberty Lines Transit, Inc., a contract operator of Westchester County’s Bee-Line bus system, jointly sponsored two coach buses.
“We are honored that this group of heroes chose Westchester for their annual reunion and are pleased that we could help make their visit a success,” said Astorino. “This is a great example of the kind of public-private partnerships that we are building here in Westchester.”
“These individuals are among the Greatest Generation and served their country courageously and honorably,” said Thomas M. Leslie, managing shareholder of Greenberg Traurig’s White Plains office. “We are pleased to be working together with the county and Liberty Lines to help in this small way.”
“We are very happy to assist Westchester County in its efforts to support and honor the heroes of the U.S.S. Enterprise,” said Joseph T. Murphy, director of Liberty Lines Transit, Inc.
The Enterprise launched the first aircraft in defense of the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, and engaged in 20 of the 22 Pacific War battles. The ship and her fliers and sailors have been the subject of the 10-part History Channel series “Battle-360” and the non-fiction book by Barrett Tillman published earlier this year titled Enterprise: America’s Fightingest Ship and the Men Who Helped Win World War II.
To learn more about the U.S.S. Enterprise (CV-6) Association or to make a donation, visit www.cv6.org.