Wednesday, August 02, 2017

A ship and It's SEAL

FROM USS O'CALLAHAN Supported by Save The Collards and WME3 Network

Perry Hunter, Vic Campbell
A lunch at Mcguire's in Pensacola, August 2 was organized to retrieve the USS O'Callahan plaque my shipmates placed there at our reunion in 2016. It will be transported to our new reunion in Valley Forge and hosted at Molly Maguire's, there for the next year. Those who touch the brass seal and say a prayer for a living or deceased veteran or active service member are blessed through Fr. Joseph O'Callahan, the namesake of our ship.

This is a new tradition for us. The seal was donated to us by I.C. Smith, a veteran sailor who left the Navy (he was an FT) in 1966. He found this plaque and several others at a flea market in Virginia that came by them from an estate sale. We do not know the origins other than that --- and that it was cast probably in Taiwan in the early 1970's from surplus brass shell casings left over from gunfire support missions off the coast of Vietnam. I was given one myself from a second (or third) casting during the third Vietnam deployment for the ship. What to do with this new plaque? We could auction it to a shipmate. We could give it to a museum? But ... We came up with the idea of a tradition.

This "ship's seal" in brass was to become an ambassador of good-will through Irish Pubs around America - to be hosted in towns wherever we hold our reunions. The host Pub will encourage admirers of the seal to touch it and say a prayer for living or deceased veteran or serving member of the military. Before the next reunion, the seal is retrieved and brought to the next city - where the tradition is carried forward.

Nancy, Perry, Kathy, Aubrey
in the picture to the left, We have the manager of McGuire's, Perry Hunter, holding a facsimile of his "Port-of-Call" Certificate from the IRISH SONG Association. Holding the plaque is Nancy Dandino who is the daughter of Bill Worthington, our shipmate in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She is a USO volunteer here in Pensacola while her husband is attached to the military here. Kathy and Aubrey Penton are standing to the right and helped support our memorial service last year before the McGuire's plaque presentation. Kathy related a story of her dad in the Philippines in WWII and how he would not talk about it or his wounds. This story came up as we discussed Fr. O'Callahan and USS Franklin off the Philippines in 1945, and that his sister ( a nun) had just been released from imprisonment. Fr. Joe was to fly over to visit his sister after all these ordeals but the Franklin was called away in a rush to attack the

Call sign - "IRISH SONG"
home islands of Japan. It was off Japan that the events occurred in which Fr. O'Callahan's actions led to the award of the Medal of Honor. Years later, after his death, Sister Rose Marie O'Callahan Christened our ship when it was launched.

I hope you are following the links in this post. you will learn so much more than what you see in the pictures.

Perry Hunter's dad, ( Perry is the manager of McGuire's), was a Blue Angel. But in combat over Vietnam, his aircraft was shot up and it crashed on the deck of the Oriskany and he died. The Oriskany is today an artificial reef and divers attraction in the Gulf near Pensacola. Perry's dad's Blue Angel (F-8) was until recent years on display at the entrance to Pensacola Airport. The news article linked here honors that legacy. As do the actions every day in which Perry supports and encourages the spirit of the warriors at McGuire's.

Nancy's dad, BT, Bill Worthington was working the boilers on watch one night off the coast of Vietnam while those of us above were taking the ship into harm's way to get close in gunfire support for our forces ashore. (Well, the Captain was taking us - we just followed orders but if given a choice - I would have suggested we go the OTHER way).  An enemy shell "ALMOST" opened a hole in the ship very near to Bill's head. A surprise, you can be sure. Last year, I asked a blind friend to paint his vision of what Bill saw as the lights flickered out in the boiler room and you could peer into the black depths of Bill's pupils. Here is a photo of Roy Allen and some of his other works. Here is a media collection of our ship at the time -- the gun missions start about halfway.

SO -- our tradition is off to a great start, thanks to Mr. I. C. Smith, McGuires and our band of happy (or somewhat happy) shipmates. The register board shown here has our FIRST PUB listed as McGuires for the 2016-17 year.

Our upcoming reunion is in Valley Forge, PA in tandem with the Annual Meeting of the Destroyer Sailors Organization (Tin Can Sailors). We invite other sailors at this meeting to join us at Molly Maguire's as we transition our seal to its next home.

We have expressed our gratitude to Mr. Smith by providing him with one of our challenge coins and a certificate of Honorary Shipmate. Anyone can order challenge coins from our ship's store. Get some to share with very special people who deserve an Irish blessing or a dose of history. The flags on the ship on the reverse side - are BRAVO and ZULU. In Navy code speak this means "WELL DONE". So, giving someone the challenge coin (a poker chip version) is a way of telling your friend - you appreciate their good work or something they have done .. (there is a link to the ship's store).

We are not sophisticated here You'll need to send a check. Coins are 2 for $10. I suggest a pocketful.

The ship was decommissioned about 1988 and transferred to the Pakistani Navy as PNS Anslat. Members of the ANSLAT CREW (Pakistani's) often contribute to our stream of media, especially on facebook. After a few years of service it was returned to the USA and sold for scrap. It was one of the last "STEAM" powered US warships. Within ten years the "Oliver Hazard Perry Class" of FRIGATE (no longer called a Destroyer Escort) came to the fleet. These ran on gas turbines (jet engines). All line ships except the nuclear fleet now use these efficient power plants. The age of steam is gone.

Actually - today - 2017 - Even the Perry Class is gone. Time moves onward.

Thanks also to Pensacola's Beach Bum Trolleys