The United States Navy

A first-person account

German destroyer renders more than honors

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German destroyer Lutjens
At sea, Sept. 14, 2001 — The Federal Republic of Germany's destroyer GFS Lutjens (D-185) comes alongside USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81) while the ships were operating together. Members of the Lutjens crew are in dress uniform and are holding a sign which reads "We Stand By You" as they show their support and solidarity with the United States following the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center on Sept. 11.

USS Winston S. Churchill
The English Channel, Aug. 22, 2001 — Aug. 22, 2001 — Crewmembers of USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81) return to their ship after a visit with the British ship, HMS Monmouth. Churchill, homeported in Norfolk, Va., is making its first deployment to the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland and Norway, and is the only U.S. Navy ship in active service named for a foreign dignitary. The ship is named in honor of Sir Winston Spencer Leonard Churchill (1874-1965), best known for his courageous leadership as British Prime Minister during World War II. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 2nd Class Shane McCoy. [010822-N-6967M-503] Aug. 22, 2001

"Both at home and abroad, we shall persevere along our course, however the winds may blow." — Sir Winston Churchill, Sept. 5, 1940.

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Pentagon Flag

Arlington, Va., Sept. 13, 2001 — Military personnel salute as fire and rescue workers unfurl a huge American flag over the side of the Pentagon during rescue and recovery efforts following the 11 Sept. terrorist attack. U.S. Navy photo by Michael W. Pendergrass. [010912-N-3235P-003]
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Washington, D.C., Sept. 26, 2001 — More than two weeks have passed since the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Reaction to the attacks and expressions of support for the United States continue to be received.

What follows is a first-person account of a day at sea aboard one of the Navy's newest guided missile destroyers, USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81) in the days following the attacks. This account was in an e-mail sent home by one of Churchill's officers.

" We have seen the articles and the photographs [of the attacks], and they are sickening. Being isolated as we are, I don't think we appreciate the full scope of what is happening back home, but we are definitely feeling the effects.

"About two hours ago the junior officers were called to the bridge to conduct Shiphandling drills. We were about to do a man overboard when we got a call from Lutjens (D 185), a German warship that was moored ahead of us on the pier in Plymouth, England.

"While in port, Winston S. Churchill and Lutjens got together for a sports day/cookout on our fantail, and we made some pretty good friends. Now at sea they called over on bridge-to-bridge, requesting to pass us close up on our port side, to say goodbye. We prepared to render them honors on the bridge wing, and the captain told the crew to come topside to wish them farewell.

"As they were making their approach, our conning officer ... announced that they were flying an American flag. As they came even closer, we saw that it was flying at half-mast. The bridge wing was crowded with people as the Boatswain's Mate blew two whistles — Attention to Port."

Lutjens "came up alongside and we saw that the entire crew of the German ship were manning the rails, in their dress blues. They had made up a sign that was displayed on the side that read "We Stand By You". Needless to say there was not a dry eye on the bridge as they stayed alongside us for a few minutes and we cut our salutes. It was probably the most powerful thing I have seen in my entire life and more than a few of us fought to retain our composure.

"It was a beautiful day outside today. We are no longer at liberty to divulge over unsecure e-mail our location, but we could not have asked for a finer day at sea. The German Navy did an incredible thing for this crew, and it has truly been the highest point in the days since the attacks. It's amazing to think that only a half-century ago things were quite different, and to see the unity that is being demonstrated throughout Europe and the world makes us all feel proud to be out here doing our job.

"After [Lutjens] pulled away and we prepared to begin our man overboard drills, the Officer of the Deck turned to me and said "I'm staying Navy."

DDG 81 is named in honor of Sir Winston Spencer Churchill (1874-1965), best known for his courageous leadership as British prime minister during World War II.

Back in Washington, D.C., in its daily accounting Monday, the Department of Defense has listed a total of 34 Navy personnel — 15 officers, 13 enlisted personnel, four DoN civilians and two contractors — have been confirmed killed in the Sept. 11 attack on the Pentagon by terrorists. The Navy personnel are part of the approximately 125 persons killed or unaccounted for as listed by the Department of Defense.

As recovered, remains are being transported to the Department of Defense mortuary at Dover Air Force Base, Del., where they will be formally identified. To date, 118 remains have been recovered. Meanwhile, search and rescue continue at the Pentagon.

Updated: 8:30 p.m., EDT, 27 September 2001 [0030 UTC 28 Sept 2001]

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