Weighing in the Anchor
By D. A. Sharpe
The U. S. Navy’s newest fighting ship, the USS Fort Worth was scheduled for its formal commissioning in Galveston at Pier 21 at 10:00 AM on Saturday, September 22, 2012. Monday morning, August 6, an opportunity for Fort Worth to have a kickoff for its namesake’s commissioning took place at the Veterans Memorial Park at 4100 Camp Bowie Boulevard.
The anchor symbolizing Fort Worth’s relation to the USS Fort Worth was ceremoniously dedicated Monday, to the delight and praise of gathered citizens from Fort Worth and surrounding communities. The USS Fort Worth Commissioning Committee sponsored the event. Contingents from the Fort Worth chapter of the Sons of the Republic of Texas, the Chester W. Nimitz and the Jeremiah Brown Squadrons, North Texas Squadrons, both of the Texas Navy Association, were present, along with other local groups.
Prominently at the helm was Commissioning Committee Chairman, Captain T. D. Smyers, USN (ret.). Keynote people addressing the gathered crown of perhaps 250 included Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, Congressional Representative Kay Granger and Tarrant County Judge, Glen Whitley. Representative Granger can be given major credit for Congress’ efforts at getting the Secretary of Navy’s decision in the naming of this Navel vessel after Fort Worth, a city with strong military heritage and presence in our nation.
Mayor Betsy Price represented the City Government, from where much of the focus came in the developments about Fort Worth’s bonding with its new namesake. Commander Warren Cupps, USN Commanding Office of the USS Fort Worth’s Gold Crew spoke. Commander Randy Blankenship has assumed command of the Blue Crew which sails from Marinette, Wisconsin on Lake Michigan August 7th for its voyage to Galveston. The crews vacillate in duty. Much of the inspiration, especially for the anchor recognition and location, came through the initiatives and leadership of former Fort Worth City Manager Doug Harman, now retired, who addressed the audience. World War II Purple Heart winner Doug Campbell of Fort Worth was recognized for service to his country.
The symbolic presence of Fort Worth was brilliantly and abundantly displayed at the event. Fort Worth Police Department was present on mounted horses, the Fort Worth Fire Department was present with a truck carrying the USS Fort Worth insignia, the color guard present were youths of the US Navy Sea Cadets, there were a contingent of youths from a local ROTC unit. Even present was a bagpipe player, Jared Piper. For those uninformed, the bagpipe is considered a military instrument, because of his use historically in accompanying attacks and other aspects of military maneuvers in European and middle eastern history, which dates back up to 3,000 years. Young junior high age boys from Navy families were manning the booth selling memorabilia about the USS Fort Worth.
The Veterans Memorial Park is nestled in the Crestline Neighborhood, immediately next door to the Arlington Heights United Methodist Church, whose pastor led the gathered outdoor audience with the invocation prayer. The actual anchor put into place to represent the USS Fort Worth was originally manufactured in 1933 for the Navy, and has had a distinguished trail of service. The Veterans Memorial Park is a small triangular property bounded by Camp Bowie Boulevard, Crestline Road and the church, covering about an acre of land.
The significance of the anchor location is that the Headquarters Building of the old World War I Camp Bowe 36th Infantry Division’s training ground was the land that today is Veterans Memorial Park. The original memorial in the park recognizes veterans of World War I. Camp Bowie operated from 1917 till 1919.
The City of Fort Worth’s press release of August 6 tells about the ship: “The Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program began in 2002 with the Navy’s pursuit of a new class of small and stealthy ships for multi-mission support. The LCS is envisioned to be a networked, agile, stealthy surface combatant capable of defeating anti-access and asymmetric threats in the littorals, or shore side areas. This relatively small, high-speed combatant will complement the Navy’s Aegis Fleet and other combatants by operating in environments where it is less desirable to employ larger, multi-mission ships.
“It can deploy independently to overseas littoral regions, remain on station for extended periods of time either with a battle group or through a forward-basing arrangement and will be capable of underway replenishment. It will operate with carrier strike groups, surface action groups, in groups of other similar ships, or independently for diplomatic and presence missions. Additionally, it will have the capability to operate cooperatively with the U.S. Coast Guard and Allies.”
The dedicatory statement was proclaimed to conclude the ceremonies:
“For the citizens of Fort Worth, the people of Texas and all Americans who value liberty, may this anchor represent the Sailors onboard USS Fort Worth, who are responsible, through their hands, in protecting our freedoms. They will never forget that they are Americans, serving and dedicated to the principles which have made our country free. These Sailors have volunteered for arduous sea duty, battling the eternally demanding seas and her possible enemies. Wherever she may be on the high seas today, Fort Worth Sailors are standing the watch. When relieved, this anchor will, then, represent the Fort Worth Sailors who will stand the watch tomorrow.”
The Commissioning September 22 in Galveston had prepared seating for 700 on Pier 21 for that 10:00 AM Saturday event. Your writer was among the guests privileged to be present.
805 Derting Road East
Aurora, TX 76078-3712