Intense photos show the USS Enterprise, the decorated WWII aircraft carrier that the Japanese just couldn't sink

US NavyA Japanese bomb explodes off the port side of the US Navy aircraft carrier USS Enterprise during the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, October 26, 1942.

The USS Enterprise (CV-6) was the most decorated US Navy ship in World War II, receiving a Presidential Unit Citation, a Navy Unit Commendation, and 20 Battle Stars.

Commissioned in 1938, the Enterprise took part in several naval battles, such as the Battle of the Philippine Sea and the Battle of Leyte Gulf.

Throughout its service in World War II, the Enterprise was struck several times – but the Big E just wouldn’t die.

In fact, on three separate occasions, the Japanese mistakenly thought they had sunk the Enterprise and announced it had gone down, inspiring one of the ship’s many nicknames, The Grey Ghost.

Check out the photos below of the Enterprise’s amazing survival.

The Enterprise in 1939, before it went through the World War II wringer.

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Japanese bombs exploding off the Enterprise’s port side during the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands in October 1942.

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The carrier was hit twice during the battle, killing 44 and wounding 75.

An F4F-4 Wildcat crash lands on the Big E’s flight deck while the carrier was under aerial attack during the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands.

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A Japanese Aichi D3A2 bomber barely misses the Big E during the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands in October 1942.

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The Japanese bomber was later shot down, crashing on the other side of the Enterprise.

A bomb dropped by a Japanese dive bomber explodes on the Enterprise’s flight deck during the Battle of the Eastern Solomon Islands in 1942. The ship took three direct hits during the battle.

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Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Marion Riley took the above shot with a motion-picture camera. He miraculously survived the blast.

Watch the actual footage of the strike below:

Lt. Walter L. Chewning Jr. climbs up a F6F Hellcat to help pilot Ensign Byron M. Johnson, who crash-landed on the Enterprise’s flight deck on November 10, 1943.

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The Enterprise is hit by a Kamikaze pilot on May, 14, 1945, blowing its forward elevator about 400 feet into the air.

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That strike killed 14 and wounded 34 more.

US NavyCrews aboard the Big E put out the fire on the flight deck after the hit on May, 14, 1945.

It was the last time the Big E was hit during the war.

US NavyThe Big E’s burned-out 40 mm flak guns after the strike on May 14, 1945.

The Enterprise returned to the New York Naval Shipyard in January 1946, where it was decommissioned in February 1947.

US NavyThe USS Enterprise being towed to the New York Naval Shipyard on January 18, 1946.

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