USS ORLECK DD 886 was built in the bayou country of Orange County, Texas and was commissioned on September 15, 1945. Leaving the backwaters of Orange, Texas she embarked on a remarkable career that spanned fifty three years of active service in the United States and Turkey. She was built to last ten years but is still here as a museum in Lake Charles, Louisiana seventy years later. Not only long lived, she did extraordinary service with four battle stars in Korea and fourteen in Vietnam during her thirty seven years as a US warship. She was “Top Gun” in Vietnam firing more 5″ shells in support of ground troops than any other ship and in in Korea she was the first to get a North Korean supply train. Ten days later she got another and that led other allied ships doing the same thus forming the “Train Buster’s Club”.
After having served fifty three years as a US warship, she went on to serve sixteen years more in Turkey as TCG YUCETEPE D345 and her reputation for excellence went with her there. In 1998 she was retired and brought back to the United States to serve as a museum but those years have been tough years and she was not received well nor did she get the care and respect that her service would seem to have required. After having been make to leave Orange, Texas, she came under the care and control of another organization in Lake Charles and while her plight seems to have improved, her situation is still tenuous with her being tied up to a river without a permanent home and insufficient help and funds to adequately support her. The Destroyer USS ORLECK Association did so much to try to make the museum a success when she was in Texas and is still working and has had some success in seeing that a working Field Days in Lake Charles was done in March of 2015 and we are still trying to work with the Museum to have more.
While her future in uncertain, things would be much worse without the support and help from a young man who is the curator of the USS JOSEPH P. KENNEDY DD 850. He has such a love of Gearing Class Destroyers that he has felt compelled to work to help preserve the USS ORLECK, the most decorated of her kind. He does love the USS ORLECK and in March he not only worked to see that the focus was correct on the work done at the Field Days but he, his dad, Mike, and Ted Hayes came from the KENNEDY at their own expense and worked during those Field Days. He has remained committed to her survival and that can not be better shown than by this tribute he did for her on her seventieth anniversary. I wanted to get this on our website so all could see and hear and enjoy the work he did. Knowing that USS ORLECK was a southern ship that was built in bayou country he used a famous and very appropriate song for the theme of this tribute. I hope you enjoy it and appreciate the work that went into doing it.
I would also ask those who appreciate what he has done to join in his efforts on the USS KENNEDY. I have been to the last three Field Days at the KENNEDY and would recommend them to you as well. Not only will that help our sister ship but will also hone our skills that can be used on the USS ORLECK when and if the USS ORLECK Museum sets the dates for future Field Days.
Thanks for caring Rich.