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Lake Erie Sailors Celebrate Battle of Lake Erie

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Sailors assigned to the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70) arrived at Put-in-Bay, Ohio, to commemorate the 198th anniversary of the Battle of Lake Erie, Sept. 10.

Invited by the Perry Group, a volunteer non-profit organization based in Put-in-Bay, 10 Lake Erie Sailors joined the town residents and hundreds of visitors from Canada and surrounding American states to celebrate Put-in-Bay Historical Weekend, Sept 9-11. Put-in-Bay is a small island in Lake Erie off the coast of Ohio.

"It is an honor for me, and for the Sailors of USS Lake Erie that you see here, to be invited every year to celebrate and reflect on the events that took place in this historic harbor," said Capt. William Johnson, Lake 's commanding officer of Lake Erie. "It was here, on this day so long ago, that a decisive battle was fought, that the tide of war was turned, and the United States Navy won the advantage over the British in the War of 1812, a defining moment in United States history."

The Battle of Lake Erie was fought Sept. 10, 1813. Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry led nine U.S. Navy ships that defeated and captured six British Royal Navy ships. The battle is considered to have been a turning point in the War of 1812.

To kick off the festivities, Johnson, Lake Erie Sailors, local politicians, business leaders and special guests boarded Coast Guard icebreaker USCGC Neah Bay (WTGB-105), to travel to the very spot the battle took place in Lake Erie.

A small ceremony was conducted aboard the cutter which included a wreath laying service as Cmdr. Jeffery Plummer, chaplain, said a few words in honor of those who fought that day.

"As we lay a wreath we remember the sacrifice, we remember the bravery of those who fought, of those who died and those who were wounded," said Plummer. "As we stand now, 198 years later, we don't know the stories of the men who fought, died and wounded that day, but the very fact that we are standing here today, says that they did not die in vain that we stand here free."

During the festivities, Lake Erie Sailors' honor guard team participated in several events including a parade; multiple public engagements with local boy scouts and the public; and ceremonial flag detail activities.

"I feel honored," said Logistics Specialist 3rd Class (SW) Joseph Reboja, who is part of the honor guard. "I enjoyed the hospitality of the people here."

Reboja and some his shipmates, took time to help local children construct Lake Erie's coat of arms during an arts and crafts activity at the Put-in-Bay Visitor's Center.

Also during the festival, several National Park Service rangers and volunteers dressed up in 1812 uniforms. Cryptologic Technician (Collection) 2nd Class (SW) Dustin Ueltschy and Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class (SW) Lance Easton stood side-by-side with 1812 military reenactors to give an audience a comparison with Sailors then and now.

Ueltschy told the audience that today's Navy still uses some of the same navigation techniques as they did back in the old days.

Johnson and his crew were very thankful for the Perry Group for making it possible for the Lake Erie Sailors to come to Put-in-Bay to participate in the historical festival.

Kay Drake, the vice president of the Perry Group, said she believes it is important to continue to keep alive the accomplishments of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry. In association with the National Parks Service, the Perry Group help raise funds to educate and improve the memorials dedicate to the accomplishments of Perry.

"I know that the reason we are part of the USA and not Canada is because of that battle, said Drake. "We were so proud when the USS Lake Erie was named."

Drake said it is important for Lake Erie Sailors to come to Put-in-Bay and learn about the history behind the name of the ship.

Today, a beautiful Greek Doric column, the Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial, stands at the central hub of the island. The 352-foot granite shaft, built in 1915, commemorates not only a naval battle, but a peace which has lasted for 198 years between Britain, Canada and the United States.

Article by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Mark Logico, Commander Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs