USS George H.W. Bush Displays Her Battle Flag for the First Time During Return to N.S. Norfolk

For the last 8 months, the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) has been at sea carrying out a major deployment to the Mediterranean. This was a grueling and very important deployment to show both allies and adversaries the power of a United States Navy Carrier Strike Group (CSG). The Bush is the centerpiece of Carrier Strike Group 10.

While on this deployment, CSG 10 and the Bush worked with carrier strike groups from several allied nations, including France, Italy, and Spain. This was done, according to the website Task & Purpose, on April 24, 2023, “to increase NATO capabilities and to deter aggression in the region.” During this 8-month-long deployment, CSG 10 also took part in the largest bilateral U.S.-Israeli military exercise in history.

Photo: U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Anderson W. Branch

Rear Admiral Dennis Velez, commander of Carrier Strike Group 10, spoke at the welcome ceremonies for the USS George H.W. Bush on her return to her homeport at Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia, on the 23rd of April. According to Task & Purpose, Velez said of the strike group, “They excelled during a very challenging deployment where we demonstrated the awesome power of a U.S. Navy carrier strike group to our partners and allies while messaging our adversaries that we were ready to defend every inch of NATO territory.”

On her return to Norfolk, though, the USS George H.W. Bush deployed her Battle Flag publicly for the first time since she was commissioned in 2009. It could be seen boldly flapping in the wind as she slowly came into port with her sailors in dress whites lining her deck.

The banner is blue and yellow. Around its borders is a ring of 41 stars, commemorating President George Herbert Walker Bush’s time as the 41st President of the United States. The number 77 on the flag is for the carrier’s hull classification; CVN-77. The ship’s motto appears on the edge of the battle flag. It is “Freedom at Work.” This is a paraphrasing of words in President Bush’s inaugural speech: “We know what works: Freedom works. We know what’s right: Freedom is right.”

Photo: U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Anderson W. Branch

Showing on the yellow stripe running horizontally at the center are three aircraft images. They represent the past, present, and future of Naval aviation. The first image is of a TBM Avenger, which is a torpedo bomber like the one that George Bush flew in WWII. The second image is of an F/A-18, which is the staple of the current air wings of the Navy’s CSGs. The third image is of an F-35C Lightning II, which is gradually being deployed to the CSGs across the fleet.

The USS George H.W. Bush’s captain, Capt. Dave Pollard, said of his crew, “Since taking command before deployment, I have had the privilege and honor to serve with the finest warriors, teachers, leaders, and ambassadors in the U.S. Navy. Our sailors serve our great nation honorably, exemplifying the service, grit, humility, and resilience of our namesake, President George Herbert Walker Bush, throughout his life of service to family and country.”

We offer a hardy “Welcome Home” to the USS George H. W. Bush (CVN-77) and her crew. We congratulate them on a very successful deployment to the Mediterranean. We know that there was a certain pride in coming into port with your battle flag flying for the first time. You are, as your motto says, “Freedom at Work!” Bravo Zulu CSG 10!

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