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Jeanee Johnson, Joyce Wehnes and Steve Davis were among the people who toured the USS Orleck on Sunday for its 68th anniversary. (Lance Traweek / American Press)<br>

Jeanee Johnson, Joyce Wehnes and Steve Davis were among the people who toured the USS Orleck on Sunday for its 68th anniversary. (Lance Traweek / American Press)

Celebrating the 68th anniversary of USS Orleck's commissioning

Last Modified: Sunday, September 15, 2013 10:39 PM

By Lance Traweek / American Press

Steve Davis first came aboard the USS Orleck after basic training in 1967 and served for four years on the ship.

Davis recalls being so familiar with the ship’s layout that he could walk in the dark from the back where he slept to the front where he worked.

“Coming in the middle of the night with the lights off you had to be able to know how many steps it took until you had to raise your leg to go over one of the risers,” Davis said.

On the ship, Davis was an anti-submarine rocket gunner’s man, whose main day-to-day duties were to maintain the launcher and keep it in good condition.

“If the system ever had to be used, I was familiar with loading the missiles and launching them,” Davis said.

More than 45 years later, Davis said he’s kept up with the ship ever since. On Sunday, he joined dozens at the USS Orleck Naval Museum — celebrating the 68th anniversary of the ship’s commissioning.

Among them was Joyce Wehnes, whose husband’s father worked on the ship when it was being built in Orange, Texas, in 1945. She visited the ship Sunday with his sister, Jeaneen Johnson.

Johnson, who was 9 years old at the time, remembers the christening when the bottle of champagne was broken on the ship.

“Being back here today is fascinating,” Johnson said. “We’ve been reminiscing. There were so many things I couldn’t see then, but now I can see inside.”

Ron Williams, executive director of the museum, said that by celebrating the ship’s birth, it keeps the memories of the service members who served on the Orleck alive.

“We couldn’t let the day pass without commemorating it,” Williams said. “Sixty-eight years later and the ship is still floating. These ships have a life of their own, and they have a story to tell. It’s great that we can preserve it and share it.”

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