Toothbrush, USS Hornet

Toothbrush, 13 February 2019

USS Hornet (CV-8) was nearly 30,000 tons of fighting machine on the morning of 26 October, 1942. Steel formed her tough outer skin, while miles of pipes holding fuel, water, and a myriad other things pumped vital fluids throughout her skeleton. Her decks were crammed with thousands of rounds of AA ammunition, and her magazines held dozens of bombs and torpedoes.

But by the early hours of 27 October, 1942, she disappeared beneath the waves of Pacific Ocean, near the Solomon Islands. Her service life was incredibly short….barely a year. 140 of her 2,200 sailors never came back from that day. Many of her sailors were just teenagers….barely shaving.

Dramatic images of her wreck have shown amazing items. From an F4F Wildcat, to a 5”/38 caliber dual purpose gun. Even an airplane tractor with its International Harvester markings clearly seen.

However, the image that struck me contained a tiny object. The image has been copied above. It shows a sailors toilet kit. And the long slim white object on the right is what caught my attention….that sailor’s toothbrush.

That image would not leave me as I stood in front the mirror this morning and brushed my teeth. What happened to that sailor? Did he survive the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands? Did he come back to his loved ones? We will never know.

But we can’t let the sacrifice of that sailor fade. Think about the Americans that give their lives for our country next time you brush your teeth.


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