Mini reunion for five former USS Orleck crew members

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(Source: Erica Bivens/KPLC)
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(Source: Erica Bivens/KPLC)
(Source: Erica Bivens/KPLC)

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - The USS Orleck currently serves as a Naval Museum where people can visit the ship and learn about its history.

Today, history came to life as five former shipmates took a trip down memory lane.

It was a mini reunion of sorts for those five men who served together on the Orleck in the 1960's. And because Orleck officials say they're restoring the ship to its Vietnam Era, they were the perfect visitors.

While looks may change, memories last a lifetime.

Five former USS Orleck crew men spent Wednesday afternoon, reminiscing over old photos, reliving memories from the 60's.

"Seeing these old guys we have to ask each who we are, look at old pictures to see what we used to look like," said 1965-1968 USS Orleck storekeeper John Patten.

For many, it's not only their first time back on the ship, it's also the first time they've seen their shipmates in all these years.

"We haven't seen each other in probably 45 years and we're enjoying it. It reminds me of when I was young haha," said Frank Cormier, a boiler tender from 1965-1969.

"It's almost therapeutic in a way, to come back. It's not often you get to go back in time and today it's going back in time seeing some of my old friends and shipmates, it was enjoyable really," shared Bob Antrobius, another BT from 1965-1967.

For these men, today was a trip down memory lane, whether it was a good or a bad memory, there were certainly a lot of stories to share.

"We fired over 10,000 rounds; I think that was the most fired since WWII. This ships nickname was the Galloping Grey Ghost of the Vietnamese coast," explained Antrobius.

The men even climbed down to the boiler room, where many used to work.

"I was the boiler tender, BT, my job was firing boilers," said Cormier.

"It was probably the dirtiest job on the ship and somehow we were awarded that job. But it was all part of being in the Navy," added Antrobius.

Ron Williams, Executive Director of the USS Orleck Naval Museum says they're happy for the opportunity to hear first-hand history, "We have people coming to the ship all the time, you never know who you're going to run into and what story you're going to hear."

And new memories created Wednesday will live on for many years to come.

The men are spending the night on the ship and will even stick around Thursday to meet and share history with a group of Moss Bluff Elementary students at 10 a.m.

For more information on the USS Orleck Naval Museum:

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