Los Fresnos News

Final Journey

EMR Hosts a Ceremony for the USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) as its ‘Final Journey’

Warriors United in Arms getting ready to present both the Texas and United States Flag Photos taken by Emilio Flores, Los Fresnos News

Emilio Flores
Los Fresnos News

On Tuesday, May 31, 2022, the USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) Arrival Ceremony took place marking the end of her final journey. The travel was one that had much anticipation.

Many of the Veterans that served on the Kitty Hawk had the honor and privilege to share some of the many memories they had. It was both an amazing experience, and a cherishing one for many.

The ceremony started at 9:00 AM, hosted by International Shipbreaking Limited, LLC / EMR in Brownsville. Veterans traveled from all over the United States to see her for the last time.

People wait in anticipation for the USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63). Photos taken by Emilio Flores, Los Fresnos News

Chris Green, President of International Shipbreaking says “We take great pride in having been awarded another US Navy ship recycling project. He says he will personally make sure that their recycling operations are as respectful as possible to the men and women who served our country on board this mighty ship.

The President explains this will be their fourth Navy Supercarrier recycling project and that they have developed safe procedures for recycling some of the largest ships ever built. Green says “I am proud to lead our team of the hardest working people I have ever met”

EMR had a great turnout, Green explains that they are really glad all those that were able to make it to the ceremony did.

“When we started doing these large projects, we wanted to put something together to honor them(Those that served) as she conveyed her final entrance into the Port of Brownsville.”

EMR created a public Facebook page called “The Final Kitty Hawk Voyage” back in January of this year. Many people were very thankful for the page being so active and keeping them up to date on the status of the ship.

Some History of Her
The USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) was commissioned in April 1961 and was the Navy’s second class of “super carrier”. Having first been commissioned as an attack aircraft carrier, in 1973 she was redesigned as a multi-purpose aircraft carrier. The vessel has four turbine engines, four aircraft elevators, and four catapults.

Cameron County Commissioner of Pct 1, Sofia Benavides, shared a beautiful speech that you could feel moved in every person in attendance.

Cameron County Commissioner of Pct 1, Sofia Benavides shares her speech.
Photos taken by Emilio Flores, Los Fresnos News

She says, “The USS Kitty Hawk was one of the most prolific ships to roam the high seas, because of its prowess the United States was able to ward off communism and protect democratic regions of Asia and the world of dictatorship.”

As we cherish the great build of machinery she says, “Let us continue to be grateful for this great Nation we live in because of our men and women in uniform. And let us once again, cherish this piece of history right here in our backyard.” Benavides finished by saying “Let us not forget the Kitty Hawk.” These words really stuck with many people and a few tears to many.

Shortly afterward they had a list of veterans who came up to share their experiences on this mighty ship. Many shared some amazing stories, Dave Gross shared a rap that he wrote himself and shared on stage, ending with the infamous mic drop. Other veterans were Chuck Hargus, Jessy Whisenhunt, Neal Woodall, and Ricky Jones.

Dave Gross sharing his rap “Crew of the Kitty” Photos taken by Emilio Flores, Los Fresnos News

Ricky Jones states that his wife bought him a flag that said “USS Kitty Hawk Veteran”.

“This has turned into a calling,” Jones says he wanted to give everyone the opportunity that served, to please sign his flag, “Also, I’d like to further extend to anyone who is—to honor someone who’s passed.” Jones wanted to have as many Veterans that served on this ship, have their names on his flag. Saying, “Get their name on there too.”

Ricky Jones holds his Kitty Hawk Veteran flag. Photos taken by Emilio Flores, Los Fresnos News

Lastly, Los Fresnos News had the privilege of talking one-on-one with a Veteran, Tommy “Sammy” Mitchell. Mitchell shares the many memories, both good and bad, but one thing he stated was that he “wouldn’t trade it for nothin’!”

Sammy Mitchell says “I’m glad my mother had the fortitude and the aptitude to make me join the military,” “Because I was not gonna—I was going down a bad road in my life.” Mitchell says but “That ship made me a man.” And he wouldn’t trade that for anything.

He encourages young men to join the Navy, he says it was the best decision and you get to visit all kinds of places.

Robert Berry, Vice President at EMR says “We know what they’ve given up over their lives, INCLUDING those that gave it all.” Berry continues, “We just had a holiday to remember them just yesterday, and today is a day for ALL of them.” expressing that both those that lost their lives and those that have served and made this day possible, he thanks them all.

Berry says that they respectfully recycle the vessels and have a ceremony with a moment of silence “Remembering those that served.”