Banks Gives Principal Speech at USS Indiana Commissioning

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Washington, October 1, 2018 | comments

Congressman Jim Banks (IN-03) delivered the principal speech at the U.S. Navy’s commissioning of the USS Indiana on Saturday in Port Canaveral, Florida.

Click here to view Congressman Banks’ speech.

Text of the speech follows:

Admiral Caldwell, distinguished guests, it is a great honor to be here today.

What a fine Navy day to commission the best named boat in the U.S. Navy, the USS Indiana.

Today has historical significance in the relationship between Congress and the Armed Forces. This date in 1789 marked the final day of the very first session of the U.S. Congress.

That first Congress passed an act to establish America’s Armed Forces. And from that day to this day, we have stood on the shoulders of men and women – including those with us today, who have served in defense of our great nation. 

Today we commission a technological marvel that has been built by men and women who share in the spirit of Indiana, the hard-working Hoosiers who embody the crossroads of America.

The Virginia-class boat is the best attack submarine in the world. Now some ask if China’s Type 095 can match it. In case the Chinese are listening today – and I hope this makes you proud – it can’t.

I like to think Indiana is a Navy state to begin with, from our state’s legendary statesman, former Senator Richard Lugar, to our current Governor Eric Holcomb, who by the way was an early influence in my decision to serve in the Navy, to Senator Todd Young, a Naval Academy graduate, to Congressman Larry Bucshon, who, like me, served as a Naval Reserve Officer.

Indiana has historically been a leader in naval leadership and ingenuity.

The first modern battleship ever built in America was BB-1, also known as the USS Indiana.

Commissioned in 1895, the battleship served in the Spanish-American War near the turn of the century.

The second USS Indiana was a planned battleship laid down in 1920. Construction was halted in 1922 following the adoption of the Washington Naval Treaty.

The third USS Indiana was a South Dakota-class battleship launched just one month before the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

It saw action in numerous campaigns in the Pacific, to include the Mariana Islands, Okinawa and Iwo Jima.

The ship’s anchor resides outside the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, in my district.

This amazing submarine that is commissioned today has a crest that honors the heritage of USS Indiana.

We see the nine silver stars which represent the battle stars USS Indiana received from her Pacific operations in World War II.

The crest of the Indiana says much about the ties between our great state and this fine boat.

From the shape of the state in the background, the color blue reminds us both of our flag’s color and one of the traditional Navy colors.

It is, as the song says, “Blue of the mighty deep, Gold of God's great sun.”

The checkered flag in the background denotes the racing heritage that we in Indiana are so proud of, reminding us of the victories of the past, and spurring us on to future endeavors.

Just above the silver dolphin that stands for the essential Navy enlisted submariners, you may be able to see one small star on the forward turret of BB-58. This represents Naval Support Activity Crane, Indiana, the third largest naval installation in the world.

The Indiana is not only about places and things that demonstrate deep connection, it is about the Hoosier spirit.

Many Hoosiers have served in the Navy admirably, are serving today, and will serve in the future. I’d like to point out just a few of their contributions.

Admiral Jonas Ingram hailed from Jeffersonville, Indiana.

He served in both world wars. While getting his start at the Naval Academy, Ingram was a member of the school's rowing, track and football teams, leading the latter team to the Midshipmen's first victory in six years over their bitter rivals from Army by scoring the lone touchdown in the 1906 clash.

His athletic exploits earned him the Academy's prestigious Athletic Sword and induction into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1968. According to the College Football Hall of Fame, they called him the "One-Armed Admiral" because he often claimed "I'd give my right arm to win this ball game."

But even more amazing were his pursuits on the battlefield.

On April 22, 1914 he landed at Veracruz, Mexico with the Arkansas battalion and was later awarded the Medal of Honor for "distinguished conduct in battle" and "skillful and efficient handling of the artillery and machine guns." During the second day's fighting the service performed by him was described as “eminent and conspicuous.”

This was a man who understood the value of joint operations well before the idea was embodied in our doctrine.

During World War I he was awarded the Navy Cross for his services in the Atlantic Fleet’s Battle Force.

Between the wars, he returned to the Naval Academy to serve as both athletic director and football director from 1926 to 1930.  To rally the team, he was known to say, QUOTE, and excuse my language, "The Navy has no place for good losers! The Navy needs tough sons of bitches who can go out there and win!"

I think President Trump would have liked Admiral Ingram’s fighting spirit.

His time during World War II was focused in the Atlantic. On November 15, 1944, he was appointed Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Atlantic Fleet.

He played a major role in assuring the steady flow of troops and materials to Europe across the Atlantic during the later phases of World War II. He also directed Atlantic Fleet efforts in containing and destroying the German U-Boat fleet. For exceptionally meritorious service during his command, he was awarded a gold award star in lieu of a third Distinguished Service Medal.

A near-contemporary of Admiral Ingram was Henry M. Mullinnix.

Mullinnix hailed from Spencer, Indiana, and graduated from the Naval Academy in 1916. He served in the Atlantic during World War I, conducting patrol and escort duty off the coast of Ireland.

As part of a long line of Navy engineers hailing from Indiana, he completed work in aeronautical engineering at Annapolis and MIT.

After flight training at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, he was designated a naval aviator on January 11, 1924. He was one of those mainly responsible for developing the air-cooled engine for naval aircraft.

He commanded the USS Saratoga in April 1943. Saratoga was the only operational U.S. fleet carrier in the critical South Pacific at the time. After Mullinix was promoted to Rear Admiral, he was relieved by fellow Hoosier Captain John Cassady, who also hailed from Spencer, Indiana.

Cassady would go on to become Commander in Chief of U.S. Naval Forces, Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean from 1954-1956, after serving as Deputy Chief of Naval Operations. He also served as 6th Fleet Commander from 1952-1954.

While not a sailor, Samuel Woodfill, who hailed from Jefferson County, Indiana, was a veteran of the Philippine-American War, World War I, and World War II. General John Pershing called Woodfill, “the most outstanding soldier in World War I.” He won the medal of honor by single-handedly neutralizing three German machine gun emplacements while suffering the effects of mustard gas, successfully leading his soldiers back to friendly lines without casualties.

These fine and heroic Hoosiers are the firm foundation that we benefit from today and we celebrate their legacies.

It was very formative for me to have served in uniform as a Navy reserve officer side by side with other service members in Afghanistan.

There is a unique bond of trust that develops between service members when operating together under difficult and challenging conditions.

For me, that understanding of the importance of trust began years before as former sailors mentored me, introducing me to the virtues of dedicated public service.

Senator Richard Lugar was one of those who spent time with me and inspired me to serve. His own service as a Naval officer included time as an intelligence briefer for Admiral Arleigh Burke.

Senator Lugar’s lasting contributions to the nation both in uniform and in Congress were a great model for me to serve in the Navy, and to serve our great Hoosier state and our nation in Congress.

I am thankful for the time he has spent with me. Thank you again, Senator Lugar.

I also want to thank my great friend Governor Eric Holcomb for his encouragement to join the Navy and serve our Nation in the first place. I appreciate your leadership for our great state and your contributions to our national defense.

I’m glad that some of the Indiana’s crew has taken the opportunity to enjoy Hoosier hospitality and spirit. Indiana institutions continue to supply the Navy with the finest men and women today.

For example, Purdue University supplies the most engineers to the Navy, and the University of Notre Dame supplies more nuclear officers than any other school.

One final note from the crest. Across the banner are the words “SILENT VICTORS.” This is taken directly from the Indiana Soldiers' and Sailors' monument in Indianapolis.

It is fitting for you sailors of the USS Indiana today about to embark on the next chapter.

As this new chapter will be written by the Silent Service, many of us will not know the full extent of the sacrifices or the dangers you will undertake.

But, without a doubt, it will be written by Victors. You are those victors, trained and ready for every mission designed for this amazing technological platform, and essential in this age of strategic competition.

For whatever challenge you meet in a domain that most will never see, have confidence, that you are backed by the faith of a nation that has stood strong for over 242 years.

The Navy song ends with “Faith, courage, service true, With honor over, honor over all.”

May you maintain that faith, have steadfast courage, and serve with honor throughout all your days. Godspeed and thank you for your service. Fair winds and following seas.

 

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