USS Orleck open house - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

USS Orleck holds open house

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -

It was a day of reflection on board the USS Orleck.

Retired Naval Captain, Joe Hill said, "It's a special day, of course, as we celebrate her ship's life and that she was in service in both Korea and Vietnam."

"It's a way to remember the ship, it's history, as well as the history of all the men who served aboard as well," said Orleck tour guide, Eric Thibodeaux.

Built in 1945 in Orange, Texas, the Orleck was intended to serve in the Pacific in World War II, but it never got the chance. The country of Japan signed a declaration of surrender 13 days before the ship was finished.

Joe Hill reflects on the Orleck's reputation during Vietnam.

"During Vietnam, I was on an ammunition ship that this ship came along side of on a regular basis, and I could tell she was doing a lot of shooting because it seems like every other ship that came along was the Orleck. So, it has quite a reputation for being a ... well, it did have the Pacific Fleet Top Gun Award," Hill said.

The ship was decommissioned in 1982 and since 2010, has served as a museum ship offering a look into the past, in Lake Charles.

One item in particular holds a special meaning for Houston Resident, Jeaneen Johnson.

"I'm very honored to be here today with the ceremonies on the Orleck and I can remember back as a little girl to the christening of the ship. I lived in Orange when my dad was shipyard foreman and worked on the Orleck ... and I can remember attending the christening of the ship that year," she said.

Despite a strong emphasis on its past roots, the Orleck also looks to the future, and hopefully, one day, docking somewhere on the lakefront.

"The deal with Isle of Capri would be great if we could get it over there. I know there is a lot to do as far as building the structure. Everyone would benefit, it would be mutually beneficial," said Eric Thibodeaux.

For now, the Orleck remains open to share its history with anyone who comes on board.

For more information on how to schedule a visit to the Orleck, call the ship office at (337) 214-SHIP (7447) or e-mail: info@orleck.org

Copyright 2013 KPLC. All rights reserved.

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