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Christening MV 1ST LT JACK LUMMUS
The construction of
five Maritime Prepositioning Ships for the U.S. Navy commenced in 1983 at
General Dynamics' Quincy Shipbuilding Division in Quincy, Massachusetts, and it
was highlighted on September 16 by the Keel Laying Ceremony for MPS 61 and 62. The
Commandant of the Marine Corps General P. X. Kelley was a featured speaker, and
wife Barbara had the honor of welding her initials on both keels. These great
Quincybuilt ships were appropriately named for Marine Corps Medal of Honor
recipients. MPS 61 was the first to be christened the 2ND LT JOHN P. BOBO
on January 19, 1985.
General Paul Xavier
Kelley, the 28th Commandant of the Marine Corps (July 1, 1983—June 30, 1987),
appointed by the President, and confirmed by the Senate, on February 14, 1984 in
his office at #2, Navy Annex in Washington, DC signed two letters to the
surviving sisters of 1st Lt. Jack Lummus. Within a few days Thelma Lee (Lummus) Wright
in Alma, Texas, and Hadgie Sue (Lummus) Merritt in Fort Worth, Texas received the following
"I am proud to
inform you that the General Dynamics Corporation intends to name one of their
Maritime Prepositioning Ships after your brother, First Lieutenant Jack Lummus.
General Dynamics is taking this action at the request of the United States
Prepositioning Ships (also known as TAKX) will be used to carry equipment and
supplies for a Marine Amphibious Brigade. The ships will be positioned at
locations around the world in order to respond rapidly to global contingencies.
This concept of Maritime Prepositioning opens a new era for the Marine Corps. It
is, therefore, appropriate for the ships to be named after Marine Corps Medal of
Honor recipients like your brother.
"You can expect
to be contacted by General Dynamics concerning ceremonies (such as the launching
or delivery) associated with the ship. The Marine Corps is proud that we have
this opportunity to honor your brother."
Fourteen days into the
New Year 1986 with new snow covering the Nation's Capitol, The Secretary of the
Navy John Lehman penned his signature to two letters addressed to Mrs. Thelma
Lee Wright, and Mrs. Sue Merritt:
Prepositioning Ship, MV 1ST LT JACK LUMMUS is to be christened at Quincy,
Massachusetts, on February 22, 1986. It gives me great pleasure to invite you as
Lt. Lummus' sister to be the cosponsor and christen the ship along with your
sister, Mrs. Sue Merritt.
"Please let me
know if you can accept my invitation. It will be a memorable occasion for you,
as well as for all associated with the ship named for your late brother who was
a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor."
In the next day's mail,
letters arrived in Alma and Fort Worth from Gary S. Grimes, Vice President,
General Manager of General Dynamics, Quincy Shipbuilding Division, Quincy,
Massachusetts. Mr. Grimes explained the roll of cosponsors in the Christening
Ceremony to Thelma and Sue. He provided a concise itinerary from arrival time at
Logan International Airport on Friday, February 21 through the reception and
luncheon in their honor at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel following the formal
Christening Ceremony at Quincy Shipyard on Saturday, February 22.
In addition Mr. Grimes
wrote, "The christening of a ship is the most important day in the life of
a ship—the day when it first receives its identity. It is also a memorable
event for all Quincy shipbuilders associated with her design and construction. I
know it will be a day you will long remember.... I look forward to welcoming
you to the Quincy Shipbuilding Division on this memorable occasion."
Before joining the
U.S. Marine Corps Reserve in Dallas, Texas on January 30, 1942, Jack attended
Baylor University in Waco, Texas on an athletics scholarship. In his final
quarter at Baylor he signed a National Football League Uniform Players Contract
with the New York Football Giants. At the time of signing, Wellington T. Mara
was Secretary of the corporation, and signed for the Giants. Jack played one
season with New York.
More than four decades
later on February 12, 1986 Wellington T.
Mara, President, New York Football
Giants wrote to Jack's sister, Thelma Wright:
kindness of Jerry Rhea of the Atlanta Falcons we have learned the news that the
U. S. Navy has named a ship after your brother Jack.
"I knew Jack only
for the year that he spent with our team but I feel a special kinship with him
because I served 4 years in the Navy—from 1942 to 1945—and knew many brave
honor not only to his family but to our team, the Marine Corps and to our
country and we salute him for it."
On Friday, February 21
near the middle of the morning with the temperature hovering in the mid 30s and
partly cloudy, family and friends of 1st Lt. Jack Lummus began boarding American
Airlines' flights at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport for Boston,
Massachusetts. The last flight with passengers aboard with the purpose of
attending the christening were scheduled to arrive at Logan International
Airport in East Boston at 5:13 p.m. Weather conditions in Boston were near
identical to Dallas-Fort Worth. Representatives of General Dynamics met all
flights, and escorted guests to the heart of old Boston and the Ritz-Carlton
Hotel at the corner of Arlington and Newbury Streets.
The first event on
the agenda was the reception and
dinner at 7:00 p.m. It was hosted by General
Dynamics at the Ritz-Carlton in honor of the cosponsors, Thelma and Sue.
Saturday morning at 9:00 a.m. with the temperature near freezing, family, friends and special guests boarded buses at the Ritz-Carlton for the 12-mile drive south on Interstate 93 and U.S. 1 to the Quincy Shipbuilding Division of General Dynamics. The division occupied a 180-acre site on South Shore, which was south and slightly west of the Fore River Bridge that joins Quincy and Weymouth down Washington Street on the west and Bridge Street on the east. The Fore River Bridge, a drawbridge built in 1936, served as an egress from the shipyard north through the various bays east into the Atlantic Ocean, and in reverse an access from the Atlantic to Fore River and the Quincy shipyard.
After a riding tour of
the shipyard, the buses stopped at Pier One North Side for a walking tour of the
fourth Maritime Prepositioning Ship (AK-3011). A sister ship, the fifth and final MPS
(AK-3012) in the program, was
under construction at the yard, and would be christened in May of 1986. But with
clear skies overhead, and a cold northeast wind blowing off the water
the fourth MPS, soon to receive its' identity, was savoring the moment as
admiring guests and cosponsors walked her decks.
The walking tour
complete, the group disembarked, and was escorted to the boardroom in a
permanent building at the back of the ceremony tent, which faced Pier One North
Side. Thelma and Sue were guided to the press tent for interviews with the news
media followed by a short briefing of the ceremony and christening of the ship.
a.m. the band tent at the front left of the ceremony tent took center stage
as Chief Petty Officer M. J. King conducted the Northeastern Navy Band in
marches and show tunes reminiscent of John Philip Sousa. The cheerful music
accompanied invited guests as they found their seating under the black and tan
striped canopy of the ceremony tent.
At 11:20 a.m. Oliver
C. Boileau, President of General Dynamics Corporation, led platform guests from
the back of the ceremony tent through the front opening, and up the gangway at
the north end of the platform. The white metal railing of the gangway was filled
in with white canvas panels laced to the railing through brass grommets, and
like the platform and bow of the ship lavishly decorated in red, white and blue.
A single line of
chairs were arranged parallel to the podium for platform guests. Along the front
and rear perimeters of the platform, flagpoles rose above the white metal and
canvas canopy; their flags snapping in the strong northeast wind.
Between gangway and
band tent the posting of colors by the U.S. Marine Corps Color Guard from Boston,
Massachusetts commenced at 11:30 a.m. The Navy band played the National Anthem.
The clashing cymbals preceded a pause, and Gary S. Grimes standing at the podium, spoke, "Please be seated." He
continued, "Good morning ladies and gentlemen. On behalf of all the men and women of
General Dynamics Quincy Shipbuilding Division. It is my pleasure to welcome you
to our shipyard this morning.
"Like her sister
ships, the 1ST LT JACK LUMMUS has recently completed an exceptionally successful
sea trial. Like her sister ships the LUMMUS will carry the materials and
equipment necessary to support 3,000 Marines for up to one month under
battlefield conditions. Yet, the 1ST LT JACK LUMMUS is a unique vessel. She is
proud, strong, and a capable ship, whose construction and performance truly
embody the spirit and character of Jack Lummus.
"The capture of
Iwo Jima was not an easy accomplishment, and required individual and personal
sacrifices. That island was not won with assembly line solutions to difficult
situations, but required the dedication, commitment, and unique contributions of
Jack Lummus, and many of his fallen Marine comrades to enable us to raise our
flag over Iwo Jima. In the face of personal uncertainty and peril they did what
had to be done for us all.
"The ship you see before you, and the men and women who built her also reflect this spirit. The 1ST LT JACK LUMMUS was not built by a cookie cutter manufacturing process, but required the individual efforts of thousands of Quincy craftsmen whose pride and professionalism put aside their feelings of personal uncertainty, and completed this ship on schedule and within budget.
"The LUMMUS is a
complex maze of perfectly tuned steel pipe, cable, and machinery, which has
taken on life and purpose through the sweat, skill and dedication of each worker
in this shipyard. She is a Quincybuilt ship. One who is worthy of the Marines,
and 1st Lt. Jack Lummus for whom she will be named.
"We are indeed
fortunate to have with us today the family and friends of Jack Lummus as well as
key members of the Navy and Marine Corps team responsible for carrying out this
critical mission. Let me introduce you to some of our distinguished guests: Miss
Jacklyn Wright, Maid of Honor and daughter of Mrs. Thomas Wright; Lt. General
Joseph Went, Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics, United States Marine Corps;
Jim Mellor, Executive Vice President Marine Business Systems and Corporate
Planning General Dynamics Corporation; and our good friend Reverend Joseph
Downey from St. Joseph's Church. Finally, it gives me particular pleasure to
introduce to all of you the president of the General Dynamics Corporation,
Oliver C. Boileau."
Mr. Boileau spoke
briefly, praised the excellent music of the Northeastern Navy Band, and
introduced Rear Admiral Walter Piotti, Commander, Military Sealift Command.
Admiral Piotti spoke
for a short time, praised Quincybuilt ships having served on many, and commanded
one in combat, and introduced the principal speaker The Honorable Nicholas
Mavroules, the Democratic Representative of the Sixth District of Massachusetts.
spoke of an experience rooted in a trip to Beirut, Lebanon in 1983 when visiting
with U.S. Marines on the 4th of July, who were assigned to the multinational
peace keeping mission. He spoke of his sadness when returning several months
later as leader of the Congressional investigation into the terrorist bombing of
Marine barracks. He spoke of his agenda on the Armed Services Committee, and the
great skill of Quincy shipbuilders, who build quality Quincybuilt ships. He
spoke of the life and heroism of Jack Lummus, and closed by saying his presence
is an honor and privilege, and described his feelings as coming from a very
returned to the podium, "It is now my distinct honor to introduce the most
important people here today, the cosponsors of the 1ST LT JACK LUMMUS, the
sisters of Lt. Lummus, Mrs. Thomas G. Wright and Mrs. Dorsey T. Merritt." A
pause, a round of applause, and Mr. Boileau handed each cosponsor a
silver-christening bottle encasing the traditional glass bottle of champagne.
ship is a time-honored tradition. Since man first set out upon the ocean, and
experienced the fury of the sea, he has known the need for God's blessing upon
And for that blessing,
Mr. Boileau turned to Father Joseph J. Downey, "Father Downey will bless
Father Downey prayed,
"Oh God author of everything in life, we ask you to pour forth your
blessing on this resource ship the 1ST LT JACK LUMMUS. May it be a new source of
strength and support for our Marines who are dedicated to the cause of peace and
justice throughout the world? May you also continue to bless the talents and
workmanship of all those who constructed this ship? Amen."
"Sponsoring of a
ship is a great honor and a great responsibility. At christening, sponsors enter
into a very special relationship with their ship, which will last throughout the
life of the ship."
Mr. Boileau escorted
Thelma and Sue to the cosponsor's platform to the rear of the podium at the
northeast corner of the main platform. It was within inches of the ship they
were to christen. A temporary extension had been welded to the bow to allow both
sisters to christen the ship. Thelma and Sue standing before the bow spoke in
unison, "We christen this ship 1ST LT JACK LUMMUS. May God bless her and
all who sail with her." Gripping the necks of their silver-christening
bottles with both hands like Jack gripping the handle of a new ash wood bat
standing in the batter's box on Carroll Field at Baylor University waiting for
the precise moment then swinging in unison marrying bottles to bow entering that
very special relationship with their brother's namesake, the MV 1ST LT JACK
The bottles of
champagne within the silver casings exploded on impact with the bow releasing a
rush of foam and liquid that gushed through star shaped cutouts in rows around
the base of the casings. Against the dark background of the bow it appeared like
two white star shells exploding against the background of a night sky. The nasal
monotone of the ship's horn rose skyward to form a canopy over the din
of applause and shouts, and a lively rendition of Cy Coleman's
Hey! Look Me Over, by the Northeastern Navy band filled the air.
Near the gangway
hundreds of red, white and blue balloons rose into the northeast wind gliding up
and over the bow of the 1ST LT JACK LUMMUS before dispersed and pushed aloft by
It was a fitting
tribute ending formally at 12:15 p.m., but pride was near the rim of the
glass, and would remain there for a very long time. Ernie Pyle once wrote,
"I guess it doesn't make any difference, once a man has gone. Medals and
speeches and victories are nothing to them any more." But for those who
live, with memories in their minds and hearts, it makes a huge difference.
The final event on
the agenda for the
Christening Ceremony was the luncheon in honor of the cosponsors at the
Ritz-Carlton hosted by General Dynamics Corporation. Following the meal and near
the end of the program, Oliver Boileau ushered Thelma and Sue to the podium. He
asked if they would like to make a few remarks. Sue spoke first. Thelma followed,
speaking from a five by eight index card: "I would like
to say a special thanks to Mr. Oliver C. Boileau, President of General Dynamics
Corporation, Mr. Gary S. Grimes, Corporate Vice President, Mr. James W. Muir,
Ceremony Director, General Dynamics Quincy Shipbuilding Division, all employees
of Quincy Shipbuilding Division, the Navy and the Marine Corps for the great
honor bestowed on Jack."
Thelma paused, and
then continued, "His memory has never diminished in my mind and heart, and
I have immense pride in the belief that his memory lives today in your minds and
responded to Jack with freedom and opportunity. Jack responded to America with
pride, honor and heroism.
"May God bless
the 1ST LT JACK LUMMUS, and all who sail with her?
"I thank all of you."
MOH Citation: Lummus, 1st Lt. Jack USNS 1st Lt Jack Lummus
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