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The following speech was delivered to the crew of the USS Tallahatchie County LST-1154/AVB-2 during the United States Navy Memorial ceremony held in conjunction with the 11th Reunion, October 19-22, 2011. Please visit the United States Navy Memorial web site for more information about this

Good morning, I am so glad to welcome you to the United States Navy Memorial where we are gathered to lay a wreath in memory of the USS Tallahatchie County LST 1154 and AVB 2.

The Navy Memorial is an ideal setting for this event. The Memorial was founded in 1977 by such famous individuals as ADM Arleigh Burke who served as CNO for an unprecedented three terms during the Eisenhower administration; J. William Mittendorf, Secretary of the Navy; ADM Thomas Moorer, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff; and John Warner, Secretary of the Navy. The Memorial's mission was and is: To educate the public about the heritage of the United States To aid in the preservation of that heritage by providing a work of art to memorialize the contribution of US Navy personnel to the United States, and to foster and promote education

In the intervening 30 years, the mission of the Memorial has been expanded to provide a place, both virtual and physical, where shipmates can connect with each other.

For the past 20 years the Navy Memorial has offered shipmates, their families, and friends the opportunity to memorialize Navy Life through the Navy Log. The Navy Log with its picture, history of duty stations and awards, and memories offers the Sailor a chance to memorialize his service.

Another new offering is Navy TV which is a TV channel on the internet for all things Navy. It features historic videos as well as current videos.

In April we hosted the annual Blessing of the Fleets, a ceremony that pays homage to the ancient maritime tradition of blessing Sailors around the world before they head to sea and where here at the Navy Memorial waters from the seven seas recharge the fountains on the Plaza. On national holidays such as Memorial Day, Independence Day and Veterans Day we offer the public.; a chance to celebrate along with Navy personnel both the heritage of our country and the heritage of the U S Navy with exhibits and activities.

I hope you had the opportunity to visit the Art of Naval Aviation exhibit which showcases the men and women who support the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard in the air and on the ground from the first flight off an aircraft carrier in 1911 to the astronauts of today.

Commemorative Plaque Wall is populated with tributes to the service of ships, squadrons, units, commands and individuals from many conflicts and eras.

I urge you to look around the Naval Heritage Center and see what we have to offer. Please let us know what else you would like us to offer. After all, this memorial is for you - the sailors of the United States Navy.

The USS Tallahatchie County LST 1154|AVB 2 was the second of only two Talbot County-class tank landing ships built for the US Navy just after World War 2. She was named after Tallahatchie County;. Mississippi.

She was commissioned in May 1949 as LST 1154. From then until 1962 she alternated assignments for the Amphibious Force Atlantic Fleet along the East Coast with assignment to the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean. In July 1955 she was redesignated USS Tallahatchie County. In 1959 she was decommissioned in preparation for conversion to AVB 2. For the remainder of her career she provided support to aviation units in the Med. She was decommissioned in January 1970.

What made the USS Tallahatchie so successful? lt was not the equipment or the weapons. lt was the men of the USS Tallahatchie who made the difference. Each officer and Sailor was trained to do a job. All counted on their shipmates to stand a good watch while they slept. Each team member knew what he had to do to make each deployment successful. Each surviving shipmate looked after the others during those dark hours in the ocean.

Thank you all for traveling here today to honor your U.S. Navy. May God bless each of you and the United States of America, and may He watch over those serving today.