A Legend is Born

INDIAN OCEAN (October 22, 2015)– This October, Sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN71) will celebrate many birthdays with cake and festivities on the aft mess deck as they have every month since going on deployment in March. However, this month holds a special place for two birthdays that all Sailors aboard the ship celebrate. Oct. 25 will mark the 29th anniversary of the commissioning of the USS Theodore Roosevelt while Oct. 27 is the 157th birthday of Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th president of the United States and the ship’s namesake.

“I think it would be nice if people took the time to learn about Theodore Roosevelt because I think most people would find something interesting or relatable about him,” said Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brian Flood, a Naval Heritage Coordinator for the ship’s enlisted surface warfare program.

There are certainly volumes of literature written about Theodore Roosevelt, and while it may seem odd that a Navy ship takes its name from a man famous for fighting in the Army during the Spanish-American War, it was Theodore Roosevelt who wrote a letter urging the Navy to look into purchasing aircraft for use in naval warfare.
Shortly after that, the Navy chose to act on Theodore Roosevelt’s advice and naval aviation was born with the purchase of Curtiss Hydroplanes. Sailors aboard TR need only look beneath their feet to see the impact that letter had and the progress that has been made in just a little more than a hundred years.

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It’s not surprising then that so much of the ship’s character borrows from aspects of Theodore Roosevelt’s legacy ranging from the call sign “Rough Rider,” a name given to Roosevelt’s 1st U.S. Voluntary Cavalry, all the way down to the ship’s seal.

“The ships seal was designed based on Theodore Roosevelt and his family,” said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Dameion Meikl, a Naval Heritage Coordinator for the ship’s enlisted surface and air warfare programs. “The inside blue portion is Alice Blue, his daughter’s favorite color. The mooring line has 58 strands around it, which represents 1858, the year TR was born. The roses are from his family’s name, which means ‘field of roses’ and you have his initials and photograph in the center.”

When asked what he’ll remember most about his time on TR, Meikl said he’ll remember becoming a shellback.

“I think TR would have had a good time doing that. I think it would have been even more fun and maybe a little scarier,” said Meikl.

Roosevelt was a big proponent of what he called “the strenuous life” and was known for saying: “Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” In contrast to his later years, Roosevelt started his life off as a frail young man with asthma and other health problems, but his father, who never gave up on him, put a gymnasium in their home and told his son that it was up to him to make something of himself. By the time Roosevelt graduated high school, headed for Harvard University, he was not only an experienced hunter and outdoorsman, but he was also a formidable boxer.

Much like Theodore Roosevelt, the man, CVN 71 had its share of troubles to overcome before construction even began. Initially President Gerald Ford, namesake of the latest class of aircraft carrier, cancelled the order for the ship in favor of two smaller, conventional aircraft carriers. Three years later President Jimmy Carter vetoed a Department of Defense authorization bill proposing to build CVN 71; however Carter reversed his veto due to trouble brewing in the location the ship is currently operating, the Indian Ocean.

Roosevelt eventually graduated from Harvard, but left law school in favor of a lifetime of public service which began with a position as a member of the New York State Assembly. During that time Roosevelt’s primary focus was to fight greed and corruption, which led to Roosevelt making a name for himself as a man of strong principles.

The ship’s lifetime of service started on December 30, 1988 with its first deployment patrolling the Mediterranean Sea before returning on June 30, 1989. Soon after the ship received her first of four Battle Efficiency awards.

Currently USS Theodore Roosevelt is making its way home from deployment at the age of 29. Theodore Roosevelt was the same age when he had his second child, formed the Boone and Crockett Club and lost more than $40,000 of his investment in cattle ranching. It would still be another 14 years before Roosevelt took the office of Vice President, when he popularized the African proverb, “Speak softly and carry a big stick, and you will go far,” from which the ship got its nickname, ’Big Stick.’

Six months after his election to the vice-presidency, President William McKinley was assassinated by Leon Czolgosz at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, and Roosevelt was sworn in for the first time as President of the United States, making him the youngest person to hold that position to this day.

Much like Theodore Roosevelt, the man at the age of 29, this ship is far from reaching its prime. With many years ahead, only time will tell what is in store for the USS Theodore Roosevelt.

Join the conversation with TR online at http://www.facebook.com/USSTheodoreRoosevelt and http://www.Twitter.com/TheRealCVN71. For more news from USS Theodore Roosevelt, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/cvn71/.

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