When a Navy ship stops serving the United States in defense of the nation, the next step can be the scrap metal yard, sold to another country or in the case of 164 other ships, become an interesting, floating museum.
The US Naval Ships Association states there are 164 Naval Museums throughout the United States. There are many more throughout the world from other countries. The site below gives a synopsis of the museum ships travelers can find while touring.
The USS Orleck is just one of those ships. However, the journey from the initial launch to where it floats today at a dock in Lake Charles, La., is an interesting story that involves two wars, another country, a hurricane and a few determined individuals.
She was named after Lt. Joseph Orleck, commander of the USS Nauset, and a World War II hero killed in action in the Gulf of Salerno when his ship took fire from German aircraft September 9, 1943. Lt. Orleck died while trying to save all of his crew as the ship went down. He was awarded the Navy Cross.
The Gearing Class destroyer was launched on May 12, 1945 by Mrs. Joseph Orleck. She served in the Korean War and then underwent an upgrade as part of what the Navy called the Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization program in 1962. After that she served with distinction in the Vietnam War by providing Naval gunfire support missions as well as search and rescue and reconnaissance efforts.
From there in 1982, the history gets interesting as she was transferred to the Turkish Navy and renamed the TCN Yucetepe where she served the Turkish Navy until 2000.
In 2000, the Turkish Navy transferred the ship to the Southeast Texas War Memorial and Heritage Foundation where she was a Naval Museum to serve as a museum and memorial and it might stayed there at Ochiltree-Inman Park on the Southeast Texas coast but for Hurricane Rita in 2005. The hurricane damaged her during the storm and after receiving repairs the City of Orange voted to not let her return.
After several years docked and relocated from one place to another, the Lake Charles City Council voted to let her dock on their shores and on May 20, 2010, she was moved to the city where she rests today.
Classifying people into generations and marking them with cultural characteristics is an entertaining exercise for sociologists and academics. However, putting a particular generation into a certain box is only informative when analyzing the different world events that influenced the collective personality characteristics of people growing up in that era. The classification of generations begs the question: Is one generation better than another? Did one generation endure hardships? Did another have it easier? It’s an intellectual exercise that can generate a discussion. Since Tom Brokaw’s book, “The Greatest Generation” was published, most of the reading public have stated that people who grew up to fight WWII and endure the Great Depression were part of the “Greatest Generation.” Is there such a title-“The Greatest Generation”–One group of people who have shone brighter than any other in history.
I prefer to think that each generation has had their own challenges and issues with their own solutions. Can you say that one generation is better than another because they helped achieve a WWII victory while another fought in Vietnam and landed on the moon? Another way to view the issue is: without one generation developing a particular technology the other wouldn’t have been able to achieve their significant achievements.
Scholars possess different views pertaining to the yearly division between generations, usually a few years separate one list from the other. Here is a list generations with significant (but not all) events occurring during their formative years compared across generations.
Alternate Listing for Generational Names from the Population Reference Bureau
1983-2001 – New Boomers
1965-1982 – Generation X
1946-1964 – Baby Boomers
1929-1945 – Lucky Few
1909-1928 – Good Warriors
1890-1908 – Hard Timers
1871-1889 – New Worlders
The above alternate generations list takes note of two generations that are usually overlooked, the Hard Timers and the New Worlders. These are the generations that ushered in the industrial revolution, built railroads and began to introduce people to technology that would save their lives such as electricity and the light bulb.
If you look at history’s 20th Century Timeline, there are many events that could be listed that have influenced generations. These are some of the ones I think are significant. I welcome any other events that you think I have missed or could be included.
The human toll these countries have paid due to both of them being a political football throughout the last century into the current one is staggering. The estimated death toll for the Vietnam Wars just from 1959-1975 is 58,000 US troops, 1.1 million of the North Vietnamese Army, and one-half to 2 million civilian deaths. If estimates include Cambodia and Laos, the death toll rises to more than five million. Afghanistan’s death toll numbers from 1979-2001 have been estimated from one-and-a-half million to more that two million. After 2001 to the present, the cost in lives for US forces is more than 1500 with an additional 20 to 50 thousand civilian casualties due to terrorist activity and the consequences of using modern warfare weaponry. These numbers are always being revised upward and in the case of Vietnam, the numbers don’t include the casualties that were inflicted during World War II and afterwards with Ho Chi Minh’s rebellious war with the French supported by the Soviet’s and Chinese communist governments.
Comparisons between Vietnam and Afghanistan are easy to understand. After all, the Soviet Union military leadership was discussing ways to get out of Afghanistan as early as 1980 due to tribal disputes, the difficulty and lack of mountain warfare training, and the strong Mujahideen force combating against the Soviet occupation. However, like the United States in Vietnam twenty years before, the muddy politics and refusal to understand the local culture thought process prevented them from acting on that understanding quickly.
In an interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski with the French Le Nouvel Observateur, he stated that… “on July 3, 1979 US President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul…We didn’t push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would. The day the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter: We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam War…”
The sad history about the Soviet invasion into Afghanistan and the 30 years since is that women in the country were enjoying more freedoms and educational opportunities before 1979. Since the invasion, the civil war, and the Taliban control, those freedoms were stripped away and in its place abusive restrictions became normal procedure until the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Since the invasion, the progress toward more freedom for women has been slow but noticeable.
What is interesting to note in the timelines below is that Vietnam was unstable and volatile early in the last century but is now is relatively steady with economic opportunities. Afghanistan is just the opposite. The country was relatively sound early in the last century but was thrown into turmoil later on and into the current age.
Another commonality with both wars was the formation of resistance fighters. One fought against Soviet occupation in Afghanistan, the Mujahideen, while the other, The Viet Cong, the communist organization in Vietnam, waged war against US and other NATO forces. Both civilian populations played a part in accepting or covertly disrupting operations. Both wars, especially before 2001, were proxy wars funded by superpower money and weapons, sometimes masked and filtered through their allies. The initial social and tribal readings by intelligence analysts underestimated local politics and influence by local leaders in both wars. The Soviets misread the conviction of the Mujahideen and the influence of Islam throughout the nation. In addition, the PDPA, the communist leadership, was never as unified as the Soviet Politburo leaders were led to believe before invading on the request of Afghanistan PM Amin. As with Vietnam, the diplomatic and government phenomenon of mission creep occurred for the Soviet military, the Soviet army initially occupied the country to protect cities and installations. Over time, the army, composed of reservists and regulars, began to engage in combat missions that expanded. Like the US in Vietnam, the Soviet Army had to fight a guerilla war they were not prepared to prosecute in the beginning. They were fighting against rebels who knew their own terrain.
There are differences between the present Afghanistan War and the Soviet Union invasion. The US war in Afghanistan is retaliation against aggression from elements inside the country on September 11th, 2001. The US force went in knowing the units had to fight in addition to securing cities and installations. Military leaders also had studied Afghanistan terrain, the climate, and tribal politics in addition to the lessons learned from the Soviet occupation. The US leadership didn’t say this at the time of the invasion, but the fight on terrorism was a long-term commitment to Afghanistan. That meant, if necessary, they were willing to stay past 10 years in the country to secure the region.
I can write for days concerning this topic. If you have any comments or notes, please post them. I am looking forward to reading other ideas about this topic.
1919-Afghanistan regains independence from British occupying forces.
1933-Zahir Shah becomes King and Afghanistan remains a monarchy for the next four decades.
1953-General Mohammed Daud becomes prime minister with King Shah a figure-head and implements many social reforms. Gen. Daud asks for help from the Soviet government.
1956-Soviet Premier Nikita Krushchev agrees to aid Afghanistan and the countries become allies. Daud’s reforms include women attending university and working.
1963-Daoud’s social reforms continue agitating the conservative religious community.
1965-The Afghan communist party forms.
1973-The former PM Daud seizes power in a coup, deposes King Shah and declares a republic
1978-PM Daud is overthrown and killed by the leftist People’s Democratic Party during a coup. Hufizullah Amin wins a power struggle, becomes president. The People’s Democratic Party (PDPA) struggle for power. 1979-The Soviet Union occupies country at the request of Afghanistan’s communist party leaders.
1980-With occupying Soviet troops supplying power, Party Leader Babrak Kamal becomes the countries leader.
Other Significant Dates
1980-Afghan Army soldiers defect to Mujahideen rebel force, led by Ahmad Massoud.
1980-US and other nations supply rebel forces.
1986-US supplies stinger missiles to rebels to shoot down Soviet air power.
1988-Last of the Soviet troops leave Afghanistan.
1996-Taliban seize control of Afghanistan and carry out harsh Islamic doctrine controls.
9-9-2001-Massoud assassinated by suicide bombing.
9-11-2001-Terrorist attacks on US Soil.
2001-US and Great Britain launch invasion of country after it refuses to hand-over Osama Bin Laden, the master mind of the 9/11 attacks on US soil.
2001-Taliban ousted from power.
2004-Democratic elections held in country, electing Hamid Karzai as President.
2012– Continued US and NATO presence in the region. Karzai still in power. Taliban force strength reduced but still launches attacks from mountainous region bordering Pakistan.
Vietnam Timeline-Comparison Timeline
1919-Ho Chi Minh emerges after WW I and tries to petition Woodrow Wilson for Self Determination
1940-Japan invades Vietnam. 1941-Ho Chi Minh organizes pro independence league. 1945-Japan surrenders. Minh declares independence and unites all French colonial provinces to form Vietnam.
1946-National Chinese, French, and Viet Minh struggle for control of the Viet Territory. 1946-Beginning of First Vietnam War between French and Viet Minh. China and USSR back Viet Minh. US back French to stop the spread of communism.
1954-Viet Minh defeat French at Dien Bien Phu, leading to Geneva negotiations diving Vietnam at the 17th Parallel.
1955-1956-Emperor Bao Dai is forced from power by Ngo Dinh Diem. He declares himself president and gains support from US. US sends advisors
1960-National Liberation Front (Viet Cong) forms to fight against US Forces and President Diem. 1963-US supports military Coup against President Diem. Diem’s murder during the coup leads to a number of successive leaders.
1964-Gulf of Tonkin Resolution give President Johnson war powers. 1965-US Combat Troops arrive in Vietnam (Second Vietnam War). 1968-Tet offensive launched by Ho Chi Minh and Viet Cong.
1969– Ho Chi Minh dies. 1973-Nixon and Kissinger negotiate peace treaty. US withdraws a majority of troops. 1974-President Ford balks at sustaining aid to South Vietnam Forces. 1975-Viet Nam unified under communist rule after taking Saigon, which they rename Ho Chi Minh City.
1978-Vietnam invades Cambodia, trying to take over from the Khmer Rouge. Tensions with China increase.
1986-Vietnam revises strategy and commits to social and market reforms. 1995-Diplomatic relations normalized between US and Vietnam.
2010/2011-Academic year-More than 14,800 students studies at US colleges and universities. 2012– Trade between US and Vietnam continue to increase.
Since Memorial Day is a few days away I wanted to give a list of memorials in remembrance of American service members.. The nation owes them a debt of gratitude for defending the United States and its values. Choosing the top eight military memorials is a tough task. I think all of them honor the veterans with splendor and reverence. Throughout history, leaders and politicians from America’s adversaries have underestimated the spirit of our fighting men and women. Arguably, when given a mission and left alone, they have achieved success time after time. American servicemen aren’t politicians so they have no control over decisions made by the government. The military is an essential position for diplomacy. It’s President Teddy Roosevelt‘s analagous “Big Stick.” Politics aside, they have achieved success in every war, conflict, police action and peace-keeping mission given to them—and that means every mission. These memorials are a testament to the widely held belief that servicemen would rather have peace because they know more than any other citizen the price to be paid for war.
Other Notables: Normandy American Center and Memorial (D-Day); Missing Man Formation; Empty Boots, Rifle and Helmet; Gettysburg National Park; Taps on the Bugle; and any resting place for an American serviceman and family member.