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Courier Post Reports: Governors, vets honor USS New Jersey

 

New Jersey Gov. Charles Edison made a prediction 70 years ago, when the battleship New Jersey was christened in Philadelphia by his wife, then launched into the Delaware River.
 
“We know she will give a good account of herself ... We know on whatever ocean she sails, she will bring honor and glory to the country and the state for which she is named,” announced Edison, son of the inventor, six months before the ship’s commissioning.
 
The New Jersey went on to become the most decorated battleship in the Navy, with 19 military campaign stars earned between 1944 and 1991.
 
But first BB-62 had to be commissioned by the Navy to signal battle readiness — an event whose 70th anniversary was celebrated Thursday by two former governors, active military, veterans and other visitors on board the New Jersey, now a museum on the Camden Waterfront.
 
The ship glittered on the anniversary from more than its polished brass fittings. Special silver artifacts — the New Jersey’s original Tiffany & Co. silver service used by its commanding captains and the silver champagne bottle holder from its christening — were brought on board for the celebration.
 
“Her engines may be quiet, her guns capped and billets empty, but you can’t stand here and not feel the Navy personnel who served her during all her deployments. I salute all of them,” said former governor Christine Todd Whitman. She stood on the ship’s forecastle, in front of its mammoth No. 1 gun turret, with a Marine color guard from the Joint Base and Navy sailors behind her.
 
Whitman’s personal connection to the ship echoed that of Edison, who had served as acting secretary of the Navy under President Franklin Roosevelt. (The ship was named for the state in honor of Edison’s valued service.)
 
Whitman was on board as governor in 1999, when the retired ship was towed through the Panama Canal at state expense, en route from the West Coast to the Delaware. There it would become the Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial in Camden.
 
Whitman expressed pride that the state played a “little role” in the ship’s voyage to its namesake state. The state Legislature set aside $6 million for the towing and refurbishment, and Whitman decided the restoration money would go to the ship no matter where the Navy chose to dock it permanently.
That decision came in 2000, when Camden edged out Bayonne.
 
“I am here for a number of reasons — not the least of which is it’s in Camden,” said former Gov. Jim Florio, a Navy veteran who was raised in Camden. Florio was an active duty seaman who later became a lieutenant in the Navy Reserve.
 
He called the Iowa-class battleship — the largest ever built at 887 feet and six inches long — “the best of its class” in helping defend the nation “time and time again.”
 
The dreadnaught was commissioned May 23, 1943 at the former Philadelphia Navy Yard, where she was launched six months earlier on the first anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
 
The New Jersey fought in the Pacific during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, and in the Mediterranean off Beirut, Lebanon, in 1983, losing only one sailor in on-board combat and one on land in its long career.
 
Today, the ship museum is run mostly by volunteers and part-time staff, who were praised by several speakers Thursday for helping the ship’s mission to educate the public, remember those who served and keep their stories alive.
 
Several crew members who served during different eras — and are crewing again as museum volunteers — recounted some of their experiences during the anniversary celebration.
 
World War II veteran and original crewman Russell Collins recalled engine room duty and his machine gun battle station as the ship island-hopped throughout the Pacific, bombarding the enemy or providing firepower to protect ships in the fleet.
 
The 87-year-old from Palmyra especially remembered two 1944 events. He said the New Jersey and its crew survived a typhoon that sank three destroyers, and was involved in a turkey shoot with some 400 Japanese planes that hit the carrier task force in the Mariana Islands.
 
“Thank for the memories,” Collins said, addressing the ship as the “grand old lady.”
 
“Would I do it again? Yes!”
 
Kenneth Kersch of Monmouth Junction crewed during the Vietnam War, when he said the ship’s biggest guns fired frequently to intimidate the enemy.
“The ship was credited with saving many (American) lives and put more shells into that country (Vietnam) than it did during World War II and Korea,” he told a crowd of about 100 people, who ended Thursday’s ceremony by singing “Gold Bless America” to a Kate Smith recording.
 
On an upper deck in the captain’s cabin, two Marines flanked the silver cabinet where 42 of the ship’s 106-piece ornate silver service — including goblets, plates and an elaborate punch bowl with the state and Navy seals — were displayed for visitors.
 
Since 1991, they have been on loan from the Navy to the governor’s mansion in Princeton, where both Whitman and Florio saw them frequently on display and even used them as table decorations.
 
“The silver is fabulous,” said Joseph Azzolina Jr., of Red Bank, a member of the board of trustees that oversees the ship museum.
 
Medford resident Amy Haubenstein was among those snapping pictures of the silver, calling it “magnificent.”
 
“Listening to the speeches, I was amazed at the dedication of the staff and volunteers in bringing the ship where it is today,” said Haubenstein, widow of a retired Navy pilot whose grandson is a junior officer on the guided missile destroyer USS Truxtun, DDG-103.
 
John Keegan, chairman of The Edison Foundation in Newark, brought the champagne bottle holder from the ship’s christening. It still contains all the shards of the glass bottle that broke inside.
 
The bubbly escaped through star-shaped holes after Carolyn Edison hit the steel hull of the New Jersey with the holder, denting it.
 
“It took a pretty good whack,” Keegan said.
New Jersey Gov. Charles Edison made a prediction 70 years ago, when the battleship New Jersey was christened in Philadelphia by his wife, then launched into the Delaware River.
 
“We know she will give a good account of herself ... We know on whatever ocean she sails, she will bring honor and glory to the country and the state for which she is named,” announced Edison, son of the inventor, six months before the ship’s commissioning.
 
The New Jersey went on to become the most decorated battleship in the Navy, with 19 military campaign stars earned between 1944 and 1991.
 
But first BB-62 had to be commissioned by the Navy to signal battle readiness — an event whose 70th anniversary was celebrated Thursday by two former governors, active military, veterans and other visitors on board the New Jersey, now a museum on the Camden Waterfront.
 
The ship glittered on the anniversary from more than its polished brass fittings. Special silver artifacts — the New Jersey’s original Tiffany & Co. silver service used by its commanding captains and the silver champagne bottle holder from its christening — were brought on board for the celebration.
 
“Her engines may be quiet, her guns capped and billets empty, but you can’t stand here and not feel the Navy personnel who served her during all her deployments. I salute all of them,” said former governor Christine Todd Whitman. She stood on the ship’s forecastle, in front of its mammoth No. 1 gun turret, with a Marine color guard from the Joint Base and Navy sailors behind her.
 
Whitman’s personal connection to the ship echoed that of Edison, who had served as acting secretary of the Navy under President Franklin Roosevelt. (The ship was named for the state in honor of Edison’s valued service.)
 
Whitman was on board as governor in 1999, when the retired ship was towed through the Panama Canal at state expense, en route from the West Coast to the Delaware. There it would become the Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial in Camden.
 
Whitman expressed pride that the state played a “little role” in the ship’s voyage to its namesake state. The state Legislature set aside $6 million for the towing and refurbishment, and Whitman decided the restoration money would go to the ship no matter where the Navy chose to dock it permanently.
That decision came in 2000, when Camden edged out Bayonne.
 
“I am here for a number of reasons — not the least of which is it’s in Camden,” said former Gov. Jim Florio, a Navy veteran who was raised in Camden. Florio was an active duty seaman who later became a lieutenant in the Navy Reserve.
 
He called the Iowa-class battleship — the largest ever built at 887 feet and six inches long — “the best of its class” in helping defend the nation “time and time again.”
 
The dreadnaught was commissioned May 23, 1943 at the former Philadelphia Navy Yard, where she was launched six months earlier on the first anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
 
The New Jersey fought in the Pacific during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, and in the Mediterranean off Beirut, Lebanon, in 1983, losing only one sailor in on-board combat and one on land in its long career.
 
Today, the ship museum is run mostly by volunteers and part-time staff, who were praised by several speakers Thursday for helping the ship’s mission to educate the public, remember those who served and keep their stories alive.
 
Several crew members who served during different eras — and are crewing again as museum volunteers — recounted some of their experiences during the anniversary celebration.
 
World War II veteran and original crewman Russell Collins recalled engine room duty and his machine gun battle station as the ship island-hopped throughout the Pacific, bombarding the enemy or providing firepower to protect ships in the fleet.
 
The 87-year-old from Palmyra especially remembered two 1944 events. He said the New Jersey and its crew survived a typhoon that sank three destroyers, and was involved in a turkey shoot with some 400 Japanese planes that hit the carrier task force in the Mariana Islands.
 
“Thank for the memories,” Collins said, addressing the ship as the “grand old lady.”
 
“Would I do it again? Yes!”
 
Kenneth Kersch of Monmouth Junction crewed during the Vietnam War, when he said the ship’s biggest guns fired frequently to intimidate the enemy.
“The ship was credited with saving many (American) lives and put more shells into that country (Vietnam) than it did during World War II and Korea,” he told a crowd of about 100 people, who ended Thursday’s ceremony by singing “Gold Bless America” to a Kate Smith recording.
 
On an upper deck in the captain’s cabin, two Marines flanked the silver cabinet where 42 of the ship’s 106-piece ornate silver service — including goblets, plates and an elaborate punch bowl with the state and Navy seals — were displayed for visitors.
 
Since 1991, they have been on loan from the Navy to the governor’s mansion in Princeton, where both Whitman and Florio saw them frequently on display and even used them as table decorations.
 
“The silver is fabulous,” said Joseph Azzolina Jr., of Red Bank, a member of the board of trustees that oversees the ship museum.
 
Medford resident Amy Haubenstein was among those snapping pictures of the silver, calling it “magnificent.”
 
“Listening to the speeches, I was amazed at the dedication of the staff and volunteers in bringing the ship where it is today,” said Haubenstein, widow of a retired Navy pilot whose grandson is a junior officer on the guided missile destroyer USS Truxtun, DDG-103.
 
John Keegan, chairman of The Edison Foundation in Newark, brought the champagne bottle holder from the ship’s christening. It still contains all the shards of the glass bottle that broke inside.
 
The bubbly escaped through star-shaped holes after Carolyn Edison hit the steel hull of the New Jersey with the holder, denting it.
 
“It took a pretty good whack,” Keegan said.New Jersey Gov. Charles Edison made a prediction 70 years ago, when the battleship New Jersey was christened in Philadelphia by his wife, then launched into the Delaware River.
 
“We know she will give a good account of herself ... We know on whatever ocean she sails, she will bring honor and glory to the country and the state for which she is named,” announced Edison, son of the inventor, six months before the ship’s commissioning.
 
The New Jersey went on to become the most decorated battleship in the Navy, with 19 military campaign stars earned between 1944 and 1991.
 
But first BB-62 had to be commissioned by the Navy to signal battle readiness — an event whose 70th anniversary was celebrated Thursday by two former governors, active military, veterans and other visitors on board the New Jersey, now a museum on the Camden Waterfront.
 
The ship glittered on the anniversary from more than its polished brass fittings. Special silver artifacts — the New Jersey’s original Tiffany & Co. silver service used by its commanding captains and the silver champagne bottle holder from its christening — were brought on board for the celebration.
 
“Her engines may be quiet, her guns capped and billets empty, but you can’t stand here and not feel the Navy personnel who served her during all her deployments. I salute all of them,” said former governor Christine Todd Whitman. She stood on the ship’s forecastle, in front of its mammoth No. 1 gun turret, with a Marine color guard from the Joint Base and Navy sailors behind her.
 
Whitman’s personal connection to the ship echoed that of Edison, who had served as acting secretary of the Navy under President Franklin Roosevelt. (The ship was named for the state in honor of Edison’s valued service.)
 
Whitman was on board as governor in 1999, when the retired ship was towed through the Panama Canal at state expense, en route from the West Coast to the Delaware. There it would become the Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial in Camden.
 
Whitman expressed pride that the state played a “little role” in the ship’s voyage to its namesake state. The state Legislature set aside $6 million for the towing and refurbishment, and Whitman decided the restoration money would go to the ship no matter where the Navy chose to dock it permanently.
That decision came in 2000, when Camden edged out Bayonne.
 
“I am here for a number of reasons — not the least of which is it’s in Camden,” said former Gov. Jim Florio, a Navy veteran who was raised in Camden. Florio was an active duty seaman who later became a lieutenant in the Navy Reserve.
 
He called the Iowa-class battleship — the largest ever built at 887 feet and six inches long — “the best of its class” in helping defend the nation “time and time again.”
 
The dreadnaught was commissioned May 23, 1943 at the former Philadelphia Navy Yard, where she was launched six months earlier on the first anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
 
The New Jersey fought in the Pacific during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, and in the Mediterranean off Beirut, Lebanon, in 1983, losing only one sailor in on-board combat and one on land in its long career.
 
Today, the ship museum is run mostly by volunteers and part-time staff, who were praised by several speakers Thursday for helping the ship’s mission to educate the public, remember those who served and keep their stories alive.
 
Several crew members who served during different eras — and are crewing again as museum volunteers — recounted some of their experiences during the anniversary celebration.
 
World War II veteran and original crewman Russell Collins recalled engine room duty and his machine gun battle station as the ship island-hopped throughout the Pacific, bombarding the enemy or providing firepower to protect ships in the fleet.
 
The 87-year-old from Palmyra especially remembered two 1944 events. He said the New Jersey and its crew survived a typhoon that sank three destroyers, and was involved in a turkey shoot with some 400 Japanese planes that hit the carrier task force in the Mariana Islands.
 
“Thank for the memories,” Collins said, addressing the ship as the “grand old lady.”
 
“Would I do it again? Yes!”
 
Kenneth Kersch of Monmouth Junction crewed during the Vietnam War, when he said the ship’s biggest guns fired frequently to intimidate the enemy.
“The ship was credited with saving many (American) lives and put more shells into that country (Vietnam) than it did during World War II and Korea,” he told a crowd of about 100 people, who ended Thursday’s ceremony by singing “Gold Bless America” to a Kate Smith recording.
 
On an upper deck in the captain’s cabin, two Marines flanked the silver cabinet where 42 of the ship’s 106-piece ornate silver service — including goblets, plates and an elaborate punch bowl with the state and Navy seals — were displayed for visitors.
 
Since 1991, they have been on loan from the Navy to the governor’s mansion in Princeton, where both Whitman and Florio saw them frequently on display and even used them as table decorations.
 
“The silver is fabulous,” said Joseph Azzolina Jr., of Red Bank, a member of the board of trustees that oversees the ship museum.
 
Medford resident Amy Haubenstein was among those snapping pictures of the silver, calling it “magnificent.”
 
“Listening to the speeches, I was amazed at the dedication of the staff and volunteers in bringing the ship where it is today,” said Haubenstein, widow of a retired Navy pilot whose grandson is a junior officer on the guided missile destroyer USS Truxtun, DDG-103.
 
John Keegan, chairman of The Edison Foundation in Newark, brought the champagne bottle holder from the ship’s christening. It still contains all the shards of the glass bottle that broke inside.
 
The bubbly escaped through star-shaped holes after Carolyn Edison hit the steel hull of the New Jersey with the holder, denting it.
 
“It took a pretty good whack,” Keegan said.New Jersey Gov. Charles Edison made a prediction 70 years ago, when the battleship New Jersey was christened in Philadelphia by his wife, then launched into the Delaware River.
 
“We know she will give a good account of herself ... We know on whatever ocean she sails, she will bring honor and glory to the country and the state for which she is named,” announced Edison, son of the inventor, six months before the ship’s commissioning.
 
The New Jersey went on to become the most decorated battleship in the Navy, with 19 military campaign stars earned between 1944 and 1991.
 
But first BB-62 had to be commissioned by the Navy to signal battle readiness — an event whose 70th anniversary was celebrated Thursday by two former governors, active military, veterans and other visitors on board the New Jersey, now a museum on the Camden Waterfront.
 
The ship glittered on the anniversary from more than its polished brass fittings. Special silver artifacts — the New Jersey’s original Tiffany & Co. silver service used by its commanding captains and the silver champagne bottle holder from its christening — were brought on board for the celebration.
 
“Her engines may be quiet, her guns capped and billets empty, but you can’t stand here and not feel the Navy personnel who served her during all her deployments. I salute all of them,” said former governor Christine Todd Whitman. She stood on the ship’s forecastle, in front of its mammoth No. 1 gun turret, with a Marine color guard from the Joint Base and Navy sailors behind her.
 
Whitman’s personal connection to the ship echoed that of Edison, who had served as acting secretary of the Navy under President Franklin Roosevelt. (The ship was named for the state in honor of Edison’s valued service.)
 
Whitman was on board as governor in 1999, when the retired ship was towed through the Panama Canal at state expense, en route from the West Coast to the Delaware. There it would become the Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial in Camden.
 
Whitman expressed pride that the state played a “little role” in the ship’s voyage to its namesake state. The state Legislature set aside $6 million for the towing and refurbishment, and Whitman decided the restoration money would go to the ship no matter where the Navy chose to dock it permanently.
That decision came in 2000, when Camden edged out Bayonne.
 
“I am here for a number of reasons — not the least of which is it’s in Camden,” said former Gov. Jim Florio, a Navy veteran who was raised in Camden. Florio was an active duty seaman who later became a lieutenant in the Navy Reserve.
 
He called the Iowa-class battleship — the largest ever built at 887 feet and six inches long — “the best of its class” in helping defend the nation “time and time again.”
 
The dreadnaught was commissioned May 23, 1943 at the former Philadelphia Navy Yard, where she was launched six months earlier on the first anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
 
The New Jersey fought in the Pacific during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, and in the Mediterranean off Beirut, Lebanon, in 1983, losing only one sailor in on-board combat and one on land in its long career.
 
Today, the ship museum is run mostly by volunteers and part-time staff, who were praised by several speakers Thursday for helping the ship’s mission to educate the public, remember those who served and keep their stories alive.
 
Several crew members who served during different eras — and are crewing again as museum volunteers — recounted some of their experiences during the anniversary celebration.
 
World War II veteran and original crewman Russell Collins recalled engine room duty and his machine gun battle station as the ship island-hopped throughout the Pacific, bombarding the enemy or providing firepower to protect ships in the fleet.
 
The 87-year-old from Palmyra especially remembered two 1944 events. He said the New Jersey and its crew survived a typhoon that sank three destroyers, and was involved in a turkey shoot with some 400 Japanese planes that hit the carrier task force in the Mariana Islands.
 
“Thank for the memories,” Collins said, addressing the ship as the “grand old lady.”
 
“Would I do it again? Yes!”
 
Kenneth Kersch of Monmouth Junction crewed during the Vietnam War, when he said the ship’s biggest guns fired frequently to intimidate the enemy.
“The ship was credited with saving many (American) lives and put more shells into that country (Vietnam) than it did during World War II and Korea,” he told a crowd of about 100 people, who ended Thursday’s ceremony by singing “Gold Bless America” to a Kate Smith recording.
 
On an upper deck in the captain’s cabin, two Marines flanked the silver cabinet where 42 of the ship’s 106-piece ornate silver service — including goblets, plates and an elaborate punch bowl with the state and Navy seals — were displayed for visitors.
 
Since 1991, they have been on loan from the Navy to the governor’s mansion in Princeton, where both Whitman and Florio saw them frequently on display and even used them as table decorations.
 
“The silver is fabulous,” said Joseph Azzolina Jr., of Red Bank, a member of the board of trustees that oversees the ship museum.
 
Medford resident Amy Haubenstein was among those snapping pictures of the silver, calling it “magnificent.”
 
“Listening to the speeches, I was amazed at the dedication of the staff and volunteers in bringing the ship where it is today,” said Haubenstein, widow of a retired Navy pilot whose grandson is a junior officer on the guided missile destroyer USS Truxtun, DDG-103.
 
John Keegan, chairman of The Edison Foundation in Newark, brought the champagne bottle holder from the ship’s christening. It still contains all the shards of the glass bottle that broke inside.
 
The bubbly escaped through star-shaped holes after Carolyn Edison hit the steel hull of the New Jersey with the holder, denting it.
 
“It took a pretty good whack,” Keegan said.
“We know she will give a good account of herself ... We know on whatever ocean she sails, she will bring honor and glory to the country and the state for which she is named,” announced Edison, son of the inventor, six months before the ship’s commissioning.
 
The New Jersey went on to become the most decorated battleship in the Navy, with 19 military campaign stars earned between 1944 and 1991.
 
But first BB-62 had to be commissioned by the Navy to signal battle readiness — an event whose 70th anniversary was celebrated Thursday by two former governors, active military, veterans and other visitors on board the New Jersey, now a museum on the Camden Waterfront.
 
The ship glittered on the anniversary from more than its polished brass fittings. Special silver artifacts — the New Jersey’s original Tiffany & Co. silver service used by its commanding captains and the silver champagne bottle holder from its christening — were brought on board for the celebration.
 
“Her engines may be quiet, her guns capped and billets empty, but you can’t stand here and not feel the Navy personnel who served her during all her deployments. I salute all of them,” said former governor Christine Todd Whitman. She stood on the ship’s forecastle, in front of its mammoth No. 1 gun turret, with a Marine color guard from the Joint Base and Navy sailors behind her.
 
Whitman’s personal connection to the ship echoed that of Edison, who had served as acting secretary of the Navy under President Franklin Roosevelt. (The ship was named for the state in honor of Edison’s valued service.)
 
Whitman was on board as governor in 1999, when the retired ship was towed through the Panama Canal at state expense, en route from the West Coast to the Delaware. There it would become the Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial in Camden.
 
Whitman expressed pride that the state played a “little role” in the ship’s voyage to its namesake state. The state Legislature set aside $6 million for the towing and refurbishment, and Whitman decided the restoration money would go to the ship no matter where the Navy chose to dock it permanently.
That decision came in 2000, when Camden edged out Bayonne.
 
“I am here for a number of reasons — not the least of which is it’s in Camden,” said former Gov. Jim Florio, a Navy veteran who was raised in Camden. Florio was an active duty seaman who later became a lieutenant in the Navy Reserve.
 
He called the Iowa-class battleship — the largest ever built at 887 feet and six inches long — “the best of its class” in helping defend the nation “time and time again.”
 
The dreadnaught was commissioned May 23, 1943 at the former Philadelphia Navy Yard, where she was launched six months earlier on the first anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
 
The New Jersey fought in the Pacific during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, and in the Mediterranean off Beirut, Lebanon, in 1983, losing only one sailor in on-board combat and one on land in its long career.
 
Today, the ship museum is run mostly by volunteers and part-time staff, who were praised by several speakers Thursday for helping the ship’s mission to educate the public, remember those who served and keep their stories alive.
 
Several crew members who served during different eras — and are crewing again as museum volunteers — recounted some of their experiences during the anniversary celebration.
 
World War II veteran and original crewman Russell Collins recalled engine room duty and his machine gun battle station as the ship island-hopped throughout the Pacific, bombarding the enemy or providing firepower to protect ships in the fleet.
 
The 87-year-old from Palmyra especially remembered two 1944 events. He said the New Jersey and its crew survived a typhoon that sank three destroyers, and was involved in a turkey shoot with some 400 Japanese planes that hit the carrier task force in the Mariana Islands.
 
“Thank for the memories,” Collins said, addressing the ship as the “grand old lady.”
 
“Would I do it again? Yes!”
 
Kenneth Kersch of Monmouth Junction crewed during the Vietnam War, when he said the ship’s biggest guns fired frequently to intimidate the enemy.
“The ship was credited with saving many (American) lives and put more shells into that country (Vietnam) than it did during World War II and Korea,” he told a crowd of about 100 people, who ended Thursday’s ceremony by singing “Gold Bless America” to a Kate Smith recording.
 
On an upper deck in the captain’s cabin, two Marines flanked the silver cabinet where 42 of the ship’s 106-piece ornate silver service — including goblets, plates and an elaborate punch bowl with the state and Navy seals — were displayed for visitors.
 
Since 1991, they have been on loan from the Navy to the governor’s mansion in Princeton, where both Whitman and Florio saw them frequently on display and even used them as table decorations.
 
“The silver is fabulous,” said Joseph Azzolina Jr., of Red Bank, a member of the board of trustees that oversees the ship museum.
 
Medford resident Amy Haubenstein was among those snapping pictures of the silver, calling it “magnificent.”
 
“Listening to the speeches, I was amazed at the dedication of the staff and volunteers in bringing the ship where it is today,” said Haubenstein, widow of a retired Navy pilot whose grandson is a junior officer on the guided missile destroyer USS Truxtun, DDG-103.
 
John Keegan, chairman of The Edison Foundation in Newark, brought the champagne bottle holder from the ship’s christening. It still contains all the shards of the glass bottle that broke inside.
 
The bubbly escaped through star-shaped holes after Carolyn Edison hit the steel hull of the New Jersey with the holder, denting it.
 
“It took a pretty good whack,” Keegan said.
“We know she will give a good account of herself ... We know on whatever ocean she sails, she will bring honor and glory to the country and the state for which she is named,” announced Edison, son of the inventor, six months before the ship’s commissioning.
 
The New Jersey went on to become the most decorated battleship in the Navy, with 19 military campaign stars earned between 1944 and 1991.
 
But first BB-62 had to be commissioned by the Navy to signal battle readiness — an event whose 70th anniversary was celebrated Thursday by two former governors, active military, veterans and other visitors on board the New Jersey, now a museum on the Camden Waterfront.
 
The ship glittered on the anniversary from more than its polished brass fittings. Special silver artifacts — the New Jersey’s original Tiffany & Co. silver service used by its commanding captains and the silver champagne bottle holder from its christening — were brought on board for the celebration.
 
“Her engines may be quiet, her guns capped and billets empty, but you can’t stand here and not feel the Navy personnel who served her during all her deployments. I salute all of them,” said former governor Christine Todd Whitman. She stood on the ship’s forecastle, in front of its mammoth No. 1 gun turret, with a Marine color guard from the Joint Base and Navy sailors behind her.
 
Whitman’s personal connection to the ship echoed that of Edison, who had served as acting secretary of the Navy under President Franklin Roosevelt. (The ship was named for the state in honor of Edison’s valued service.)
 
Whitman was on board as governor in 1999, when the retired ship was towed through the Panama Canal at state expense, en route from the West Coast to the Delaware. There it would become the Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial in Camden.
 
Whitman expressed pride that the state played a “little role” in the ship’s voyage to its namesake state. The state Legislature set aside $6 million for the towing and refurbishment, and Whitman decided the restoration money would go to the ship no matter where the Navy chose to dock it permanently.
That decision came in 2000, when Camden edged out Bayonne.
 
“I am here for a number of reasons — not the least of which is it’s in Camden,” said former Gov. Jim Florio, a Navy veteran who was raised in Camden. Florio was an active duty seaman who later became a lieutenant in the Navy Reserve.
 
He called the Iowa-class battleship — the largest ever built at 887 feet and six inches long — “the best of its class” in helping defend the nation “time and time again.”
 
The dreadnaught was commissioned May 23, 1943 at the former Philadelphia Navy Yard, where she was launched six months earlier on the first anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
 
The New Jersey fought in the Pacific during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, and in the Mediterranean off Beirut, Lebanon, in 1983, losing only one sailor in on-board combat and one on land in its long career.
 
Today, the ship museum is run mostly by volunteers and part-time staff, who were praised by several speakers Thursday for helping the ship’s mission to educate the public, remember those who served and keep their stories alive.
 
Several crew members who served during different eras — and are crewing again as museum volunteers — recounted some of their experiences during the anniversary celebration.
 
World War II veteran and original crewman Russell Collins recalled engine room duty and his machine gun battle station as the ship island-hopped throughout the Pacific, bombarding the enemy or providing firepower to protect ships in the fleet.
 
The 87-year-old from Palmyra especially remembered two 1944 events. He said the New Jersey and its crew survived a typhoon that sank three destroyers, and was involved in a turkey shoot with some 400 Japanese planes that hit the carrier task force in the Mariana Islands.
 
“Thank for the memories,” Collins said, addressing the ship as the “grand old lady.”
 
“Would I do it again? Yes!”
 
Kenneth Kersch of Monmouth Junction crewed during the Vietnam War, when he said the ship’s biggest guns fired frequently to intimidate the enemy.
“The ship was credited with saving many (American) lives and put more shells into that country (Vietnam) than it did during World War II and Korea,” he told a crowd of about 100 people, who ended Thursday’s ceremony by singing “Gold Bless America” to a Kate Smith recording.
 
On an upper deck in the captain’s cabin, two Marines flanked the silver cabinet where 42 of the ship’s 106-piece ornate silver service — including goblets, plates and an elaborate punch bowl with the state and Navy seals — were displayed for visitors.
 
Since 1991, they have been on loan from the Navy to the governor’s mansion in Princeton, where both Whitman and Florio saw them frequently on display and even used them as table decorations.
 
“The silver is fabulous,” said Joseph Azzolina Jr., of Red Bank, a member of the board of trustees that oversees the ship museum.
 
Medford resident Amy Haubenstein was among those snapping pictures of the silver, calling it “magnificent.”
 
“Listening to the speeches, I was amazed at the dedication of the staff and volunteers in bringing the ship where it is today,” said Haubenstein, widow of a retired Navy pilot whose grandson is a junior officer on the guided missile destroyer USS Truxtun, DDG-103.
 
John Keegan, chairman of The Edison Foundation in Newark, brought the champagne bottle holder from the ship’s christening. It still contains all the shards of the glass bottle that broke inside.
 
The bubbly escaped through star-shaped holes after Carolyn Edison hit the steel hull of the New Jersey with the holder, denting it.
 
“It took a pretty good whack,” Keegan said.
“We know she will give a good account of herself ... We know on whatever ocean she sails, she will bring honor and glory to the country and the state for which she is named,” announced Edison, son of the inventor, six months before the ship’s commissioning.
 
The New Jersey went on to become the most decorated battleship in the Navy, with 19 military campaign stars earned between 1944 and 1991.
 
But first BB-62 had to be commissioned by the Navy to signal battle readiness — an event whose 70th anniversary was celebrated Thursday by two former governors, active military, veterans and other visitors on board the New Jersey, now a museum on the Camden Waterfront.
 
The ship glittered on the anniversary from more than its polished brass fittings. Special silver artifacts — the New Jersey’s original Tiffany & Co. silver service used by its commanding captains and the silver champagne bottle holder from its christening — were brought on board for the celebration.
 
“Her engines may be quiet, her guns capped and billets empty, but you can’t stand here and not feel the Navy personnel who served her during all her deployments. I salute all of them,” said former governor Christine Todd Whitman. She stood on the ship’s forecastle, in front of its mammoth No. 1 gun turret, with a Marine color guard from the Joint Base and Navy sailors behind her.
 
Whitman’s personal connection to the ship echoed that of Edison, who had served as acting secretary of the Navy under President Franklin Roosevelt. (The ship was named for the state in honor of Edison’s valued service.)
 
Whitman was on board as governor in 1999, when the retired ship was towed through the Panama Canal at state expense, en route from the West Coast to the Delaware. There it would become the Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial in Camden.
 
Whitman expressed pride that the state played a “little role” in the ship’s voyage to its namesake state. The state Legislature set aside $6 million for the towing and refurbishment, and Whitman decided the restoration money would go to the ship no matter where the Navy chose to dock it permanently.
That decision came in 2000, when Camden edged out Bayonne.
 
“I am here for a number of reasons — not the least of which is it’s in Camden,” said former Gov. Jim Florio, a Navy veteran who was raised in Camden. Florio was an active duty seaman who later became a lieutenant in the Navy Reserve.
 
He called the Iowa-class battleship — the largest ever built at 887 feet and six inches long — “the best of its class” in helping defend the nation “time and time again.”
 
The dreadnaught was commissioned May 23, 1943 at the former Philadelphia Navy Yard, where she was launched six months earlier on the first anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
 
The New Jersey fought in the Pacific during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, and in the Mediterranean off Beirut, Lebanon, in 1983, losing only one sailor in on-board combat and one on land in its long career.
 
Today, the ship museum is run mostly by volunteers and part-time staff, who were praised by several speakers Thursday for helping the ship’s mission to educate the public, remember those who served and keep their stories alive.
 
Several crew members who served during different eras — and are crewing again as museum volunteers — recounted some of their experiences during the anniversary celebration.
 
World War II veteran and original crewman Russell Collins recalled engine room duty and his machine gun battle station as the ship island-hopped throughout the Pacific, bombarding the enemy or providing firepower to protect ships in the fleet.
 
The 87-year-old from Palmyra especially remembered two 1944 events. He said the New Jersey and its crew survived a typhoon that sank three destroyers, and was involved in a turkey shoot with some 400 Japanese planes that hit the carrier task force in the Mariana Islands.
 
“Thank for the memories,” Collins said, addressing the ship as the “grand old lady.”
 
“Would I do it again? Yes!”
 
Kenneth Kersch of Monmouth Junction crewed during the Vietnam War, when he said the ship’s biggest guns fired frequently to intimidate the enemy.
“The ship was credited with saving many (American) lives and put more shells into that country (Vietnam) than it did during World War II and Korea,” he told a crowd of about 100 people, who ended Thursday’s ceremony by singing “Gold Bless America” to a Kate Smith recording.
 
On an upper deck in the captain’s cabin, two Marines flanked the silver cabinet where 42 of the ship’s 106-piece ornate silver service — including goblets, plates and an elaborate punch bowl with the state and Navy seals — were displayed for visitors.
 
Since 1991, they have been on loan from the Navy to the governor’s mansion in Princeton, where both Whitman and Florio saw them frequently on display and even used them as table decorations.
 
“The silver is fabulous,” said Joseph Azzolina Jr., of Red Bank, a member of the board of trustees that oversees the ship museum.
 
Medford resident Amy Haubenstein was among those snapping pictures of the silver, calling it “magnificent.”
 
“Listening to the speeches, I was amazed at the dedication of the staff and volunteers in bringing the ship where it is today,” said Haubenstein, widow of a retired Navy pilot whose grandson is a junior officer on the guided missile destroyer USS Truxtun, DDG-103.
 
John Keegan, chairman of The Edison Foundation in Newark, brought the champagne bottle holder from the ship’s christening. It still contains all the shards of the glass bottle that broke inside.
 
The bubbly escaped through star-shaped holes after Carolyn Edison hit the steel hull of the New Jersey with the holder, denting it.
 
“It took a pretty good whack,” Keegan said.
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