While Bob and I were in Corpus Christi, Texas in March of 2006, we had the opportunity to visit the USS Lexington, better known now, as The Blue Ghost. The ship was originally known as the Cabot, but after the USS Lexington CV-2 was lost in the Battle of the Coral Sea, she was renamed while under construction to commemorate the earlier USS Lexington. This Lexington was the fifth United States Navy ship to bear the name in honor of the Revolutionary War Battle of Lexington. In June of 1942, after the earlier USS Lexington was destroyed, workers at the shipyard submitted a request to Navy Secretary Frank Knox to change the name of a carrier currently under construction there to Lexington. Knox agreed to the proposal and Cabot was renamed as the fifth USS Lexington on 16 June 1942. She was launched on 23 September 1942, sponsored by Mrs Theodore Douglas Robinson. Lexington was commissioned on February 17, 1943.
I can’t say for sure if this Frank Knox was any relation to my husband’s Knox ancestors, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all, since the Knox family was into politics, and even included a connection to President James Knox Polk. While I was originally writing this because on this day, December 5, 1941, the prior USS Lexington headed out to the Battle of Midway…a battle that it never made it to, because of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. That Lexington made it back to Pearl Harbor on December 13, 1941, so it was not much help. Later, the prior USS Lexington was destroyed in the Battle of Coral Sea, triggering the renaming of the USS Lexington that Bob and I saw.
The USS Lexington we saw was referred to as a “ghost” ship by the Japanese for her tendency to reappear after reportedly being sunk. This, coupled with the ship’s dark blue camouflage scheme, led the crew to refer to her as “The Blue Ghost”. There were rumors during the war that the ship was so badly damaged it had to be scuttled at one point, but a newly built aircraft carrier was immediately deployed with the same name, in an effort to demoralize the Japanese. I’m sure the whole situation was a serious frustration to the Japanese, but for Bob and me the legend that ship had become was something we found quite interesting.
That said, I now find something new to draw my interest…namely Navy Secretary Frank Knox. One thing I have noticed is that in many families, certain names seem to be used over and over. In Bob’s family, there is a Frank Knox, and in that lineage there are Williams and Johns. The same is the case with Navy Secretary Frank Knox’s lineage. For that reason, I expect that a connection exists, and with a little work, I think I will find it, if it exists. I like the challenges that come from trying to connect the missing links in our family, and when I can tie it to something I have personally seen, it is an even more exciting quest.