Ship From Ingalls Heads To Sea For Commissioning

It's a 40,500 ton ship that rides like a Cadillac. That's the way the captain of the USS Iwo Jima describes his new ship.

The vessel left Ingalls Saturday and headed to Pensacola to get ready for its commissioning ceremony. More than 2,000 guests got to go along for the ride.

"It's fully self contained. This is a floating city," says guest Julius Mosley.

"I'm still in a stupor over this ship. I can't get over the size. I've never been on something like this before," says Iwo Jima survivor John Moon.

The two men, along with hundreds of other Iwo Jima vets were special guests aboard the ship. As they made the trip to Pensacola, they remembered the battle.

"When we went ashore, we weren't scared," veteran Bill Daw says. "But once we got ashore and tried to climb up those lava rock beaches, that's when it sits in."

"I had to handle, take a lot of wounded people to the hospital ships on Amtrak and see them cry and load them on the ship, and as we went aboard the hospital ship, say "thanks marine," remembers Ralph Lewis.

Jack Lucas also has a lot of memories. He was only 14, but he lied about his age so he could join the Marines. He was not much older than that when he received a Medal of Honor for saving the lives of his fellow comrades.

"I wear this medal in the highest respect for those men that did not come back cause everyone of them were heroes in that battle," he says.

The USS Iwo Jima is designed with some of the latest technology. It's complete with state of the art radar and tracking systems. Capt. John Nawrocki says those are features that help make sure the ship and its crew are ready for anything.

"Our real role is to put the Marine Corp on the beach, and so when we deploy, we embark with 2,000 combat marines who have the ability to literally kick in the door and defend or protect," he says.

And that's why vets say the USS Iwo Jima is a ship they are proud bears the name of such a significant battle.