Thursday August 30, 2012 | 01:14 PM

Top Navy brass will pay a visit to Maine's North Woods next month to honor a war hero and the area in which he grew up.

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus is expected to visit Millinocket on Sunday, Sept. 2 as part of a naming ceremony for one of the service's newest joint high-speed vessels, the U.S.N.S. Millinocket, Sen. Susan Collins' office announced Thursday.

This is the second ship being named in honor of East Millinocket native Stephen W. Groves, a pilot who was killed during the infamous Battle of Midway during World War II. Groves was part of fighter squadron that defended Navy ships against fierce Japanese attacks. He was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross.

The USNS Millinocket is the Navy's third Joint High Speed Vessel, a type of shallow-draft transport ship. A guided-missle frigate already bears Groves' name.

"I am incredibly proud that the Navy will continue to honor the service of Ensign Groves, which is representative of the service tens of thousands of Mainers, many from the Millinocket and East Millinocket region, who have served our nation in harm's way for more than two hundred years," Collins said in a statement. "As the USNS Millinocket travels the globe in service to the United States, it will carry a connection to Maine with it, and tens of thousands of people will learn about this special community's rich history of hard work, determination, and perseverance."

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Open Season is your guide to the 2014 campaign. Our team of political writers has its sights set on Maine’s major elections, from the Blaine House to the U.S. Capitol.

Steve Mistler is covering the 2014 governor's race. He covers politics and government for the Portland Press Herald. He spends a lot of time in the hallways of the State House.
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