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USS Intrepid Museum commemorates 80th anniversary of commissioning

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The USS Intrepid Museum has hosted hundreds of attendees, among them over 180 former crew members, to mark the venerable vessel’s eight-decade journey since its commissioning.

On the occasion of the 80th anniversary, “two of the ship’s most senior crew members, Edward Hill, aged 99 and hailing from New Jersey, and Ed Coyne, aged 97 and a native of New York City, met for the very first time”.

Referred to as “plank owners” due to their service since the Intrepid’s inception in 1943, Hill and Coyne both concluded their service aboard the ship in 1946. A rarity among their peers, the two shared their experiences as integral members of the ship’s initial crew during a special ceremony held aboard the ship-turned-museum, eighty years hence.

Reflecting on the occasion, Edward Hill expressed, “Very few people I knew. It was nice to meet another plank member.” This sentiment was echoed by Ed Coyne, who remarked, “There’s only two of us here who put the ship in commission. It was great.”

The commemoration event, held on the ship’s hangar deck, was graced by the presence of World War II veterans who served on the Intrepid, some of whom participated in the Cold War and the Vietnam War. The occasion was further dignified by the attendance of U.S. Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro, a native of New York City, who emphasized the museum’s role in preserving the legacy of those like Hill and Coyne.

The stories shared during the ceremony underscored the ship’s resilience during wartime challenges, including surviving torpedo attacks and kamikaze assaults. Despite the adversities faced, the Intrepid never succumbed to sinking.

“Hill and Coyne’s recollections provided a window into their wartime roles, with Coyne recalling his station below deck, manning the fuel pumps and phones while closely observing the ship’s tumultuous wartime experiences”.

“Although separated by different roles and responsibilities during their service, the two veterans found a shared camaraderie and a chance to reminisce during the anniversary ceremony. Their presence highlighted the ship’s transformation from a war vessel to a museum, a journey that saw its decommissioning in 1974 and subsequent rescue from scrapping in 1982, when it became the celebrated USS Intrepid Museum”.

“As the ceremony concluded, attendees were reminded of the museum’s ongoing mission to honor the contributions of those who served aboard the Intrepid. The event also drew poignant participation from relatives of the Intrepid’s Air Group 18, who had flown from the carrier during World War II. The legacy of the Intrepid, embodied by individuals like Edward Hill and Ed Coyne, remains a testament to the enduring significance of its storied history”.

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