A RadiomanSN just out of “A” school, reported for six weeks of USS O’Callahan DE1051 Pre Commissioning Detail in Newport, RI, May 1968. Just before the 4th of July, the PreCom nucleus crew shipped out by bus to Boston for the commissioning of the O’Callahan, (July 13, 1968), sea trials, shakedown exercises, and then sailed to our homeport in San Diego.
Before the commissioning of the O’Callahan, our first Commanding Officer, Cdr. Robert L. Brown, had the original carving of the ship’s crest in his stateroom. Day after day he applied layer upon layer of rubber latex to make a rubber mold. After the initial use, the rubber mold was passed to me for additional use. HM1 “Doc” Bradley in sickbay supplied some plaster of paris. Enough for five or six castings, a couple coats of paint, mounted on a wooden shield and the end product, a ship’s crest/plaque. A couple of our 1st Class POs, plankowners, promoted to Chief Petty Officer received a ship’s crest. There was an extra crest which proudly hangs in my hallway.
While deployed on our first WestPac cruise in 1970, a tour of duty as gunfire support off the coast of south Viet Nam and Cambodia provided a number of spent brass shell casings. The only spent shell casings to disappear from storage were the brass casings. They must have fallen overboard while we were taking 33 degree rolls on rough seas in the Sea of Japan. All was not lost, somehow solid brass ship’s crests surfaced in the Weapons’ Officer’s stateroom. The scuttlebutt from a reliable source; said there was an exchange of spent brass shell casings along with a few cases of frozen steaks and in short order appeared two dozen brass ship’s crests.
A few weeks before departing Japan for our return to San Diego, an All Hands personnel inspection and promotion ceremony was held on the fantail. Along with the various shipboard promotions, the first brass plaque was presented by our CO, Cdr J.A.Coiner, to Lt M.J., US Naval Hospital, nurse stationed in Japan. The Lt. was acknowledged as a “WestPac-Super Steamer” and a honorary crewmember.
The rubber mold was nolonger needed and once again ended up in my possession. The mold is in a suitcase in a storage locker under the Hollywood Freeway. After 37 years, it’s probably no longer flexible enough for additional use. Guess that's what happens when we get older. - Peace!
Richard E. Settle, RM2
USS O:Callahan Plankowner