BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – While the newly-commissioned USS Colorado submarine is the crown jewel of the United States Navy, it’s actually not the first vessel named after the Centennial State. In 1923, the USS Colorado BB-45 battleship was commissioned.
When the United States entered WWII, 18-year-old Ernest Lowry was aboard. Ernest now lives in Northglenn.
“I just did what needed to be done,” he told CBS4’s Dominic Garcia.
Ernest and his son, Roger, met up with Dominic at the University of Colorado in Boulder where an exhibit honors the old USS Colorado. It houses the ship’s bell and helm. The rest of it was sold for scrap metal in the 1950s.
“It’s hard to imagine the courage of those young men that took on that duty, that responsibility,” Ernest’s son, Roger told CBS4.
The USS Colorado BB-45 was stationed in the Pacific while Ernest was serving on-board. He was wounded not once, but twice. His first injury came from shrapnel from a shell blast. His second injury came as Japanese Kamakizis flew into his ship.
“There was more than one battle where I thought they’re going to get me,” Lowry told CBS4’s Dominic Garcia.
Even though the USS Colorado BB-45 battleship is gone, its memory lives on on-board the newly-commissioned USS Colorado submarine. Several planks from the ship now line the submarine’s control room floor.
Several other vessels have been named after Colorado. One served during the Civil War, another was used during World War I.
“We were able to use some of that to honor the ship and crew of the BB-45 and to kind of carry forward their service and the traditions they started,” said Commander Reed Koepp, in charge of the new USS Colorado.
After CBS4’s Dominic Garcia and photojournalist Rob McClure visited the USS Colorado in Groton, Connecticut, Commander Koepp sent back several gifts for WWII veteran Ernest Lowry.
When asked about his service, Lowry simply said, “It had to be done”.
A special thanks to History Colorado for providing several of the images used in CBS4’s story.