Former crewmembers gather for 72 commissioning anniversary for U - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Former crewmembers gather for 72 commissioning anniversary for USS Orleck

(Source: Candy Rodriguez/KPLC) (Source: Candy Rodriguez/KPLC)

The USS Orleck will celebrate its 72 anniversary of commissioning with a reunion of former crewmembers. The reunion starts tonight, September 13, at five with a reception and dinner at L'Auberge. 

"We have a national treasure in our backyard here," said Ron Williams, the executive director of the USS Orleck Naval Museum. "Consolidated steel ship building and a lot of people don't know that."

On Friday, the commissioning will be commemorated beginning at 2 p.m., and a sunset social will follow beginning at 6 p.m. all happening at the USS Orleck Naval Museum. 

Crewmembers that served on the naval ship throughout its 37-years of service with the Navy are expected to attend, including one of the original crew members on the ship when it was commissioned 72-years ago. 

The former sailors traveled from all across the country.

An Air Force veteran, Williams, is in charge of maintaining the naval ship. 

"I call myself the retired Air Force guy with a ship," he said. "It's a wonderful challenge."

A challenge the former crew members are thankful for.

 "Yeah, this a ship that like I said is like home to us," said Rick Butler a USS Orleck Sailor from 1967 through 1971. "We all grew up on this ship."

And every time they step on board, memories of their time come rushing back.

"I come on board right out of high school in 1964," said Kin Walkup who served until 1968.

"I was here from 1965 to 1967 on this ship," said Bob Antrobius

From 1965 through 1969," said Lindy Baxley who added that his nickname was 'Baby' while on aboard the Orleck.

Their time on the ship is one they will never forget they said.

"Basically, we came in on as boys and leave as men," Walkup said. "And that's basically what the ship means to all of us."

For more information on the ship, click HERE

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