LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - It takes a lot of volunteers to keep the 70 year old U.S.S. Orleck Naval Museum running throughout the year. Many of those volunteers are military veterans. Navy veteran Stephen Miller first got interested in the U.S.S. Orleck when plans were being made to move the ship from Orange Texas to Lake Charles.
"The ship was built in Orange, Texas in World War II," said Miller. "I remembered that my dad worked in the shipyard in Orange during the war. He was a sheet metal worker, so I assumed that he had some small part in building these ships. So I got more interested."
Miller is fascinated by some of the stories he's heard about the ship, including the fact that its crew trained to retrieve Gemini space capsules in the 60s.
"They had the ship stationed in the area it was to have splashed down in, so once the capsule splashed down, a helicopter from the aircraft carrier went to pickup the astronaut. Then after the astronaut was safely removed from the capsule, one of these destroyers would pull up along side the capsule."
The Orleck practiced this, but never got the chance because it was reassigned to fight in Vietnam. Miller says it's important to him and others to honor the Orleck's history.
"As a memorial to the men that served in the military, especially those who served on this ship. The other is to educate young people that don't know anything about the military."
By volunteering here on the Orleck, Miller is honoring his past service in the U.S. Navy. For more information on the museum, click here.