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Why Naval History Matters to Colorado

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Clifford L. H. Davis, Naval History and Heritage Command, Communication and Outreach Division

180313-N-N0101-001 WASHINGTON (March 13, 2018) A photo illustration of the command crest for the future Virginia-class attack submarine USS Colorado (SSN 788). (U.S. Navy photo illustration/Released)

During an 1806 expedition to explore the southwestern boundary of the Louisiana Purchase, Lieutenant Zebulon Pike attempted to reach the summit of one of Colorado’s mountain peaks that exceed 14,000 feet.  Although he was unable to reach the summit, the peak was named in Pike’s honor and would later serve as a motto “Pike’s Peak or Bust” for people moving westward to the Colorado territory after the discovery of gold in 1858.  The new residents recognized a need for some form of government and the territory was accepted into the Union on Aug. 1, 1876, as the 38th state.  It has become known as the “Centennial State.”

CARIBBEAN SEA (Sept. 14, 2009) A multi-national naval force, led by the San Antonio class-amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19), underway in formation as part of Fuerzas Aliadas PANAMAX 2009. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Gary B. Granger Jr./Released)

More than 30 ships have been named after the state of Colorado, its cities, counties, people and landmarks.  Four ships have carried the state’s name, including the newly commissioned nuclear submarine USS Colorado (SSN 788).  Her motto “Terra Marique Indomita,means “by land and sea, untamed,” to imply that Colorado or the ‘spirit’ embodied by the name of the state, the ship, or its Sailors is untamed by either land or sea.  The USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) is the first Navy ship to be named after the ancestral Pueblo people who resided in cliff dwellings for more than 700 years in southwest Colorado.

Coloradoans can also boast that their fellow citizens include leaders like former Secretary of State John Kerry and Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Admiral Arleigh A. Burke.  Burke, a 1923 graduate of the United States Naval Academy, would rise through the Navy’s ranks to be the longest serving CNO at an unprecedented five years, 11 months and 16 days.  A class of destroyer would be named after Burke, incorporating much of the Spruance class destroyer propulsion while integrating the Aegis Weapons System.

Additionally, in 1993, Colo. Representative Scott McInnis read into the Congressional Record that Pueblo, Colo. was the only city in the U.S. to have four living recipients of the Medal of Honor from the same hometown, earning the city the moniker “Home of Heroes.”

Colorado is home to multiple Navy commands with missions ranging from recruiting new Sailors, to providing support to Naval Reserve personnel. Among them is the Navy Information Operations Command (NIOC) Colorado, located on Buckley Air Force Base.  Its mission is to ready and train cryptologic warfare officers and cryptologic enlisted personnel to support signal intelligence, electronic warfare, space, and cyber operations in support of U.S. Tenth Fleet.

Share the following infographic and spread Colorado’s proud naval history!