A re-union for the crew of the USS Will Rogers. Just a few days before America celebrates its independence, more than a hundred servicemen took part in a celebration to honor the US sub. As KOTV's Heather Brooker explains, the man behind the ship is attracting as much attention as the sub itself.
The air was filled with pride as more than a hundred people honored the memory of Oklahoma's favorite son. Specifically, the men and women were in Claremore from all over the country to pay tribute to the legend of the submarine USS Will Rogers. Marsh says "it's one thing to name ships after states, or cities, but it's more important to name them after individuals because individuals have character, they have life, and they have meaning." Rear Admiral Marsh spent 5 years aboard the submarine. Now he's reliving some of those memories at a re-union with his shipmates. He says being in Oklahoma makes his time aboard the Will Rogers even more meaningful. "To come here to Oklahoma many of us for the first time, to actually see where he was born, where he lived and to visit this memorial, adds even deeper meaning for our service on board the ship that was named for him."
The sub was commissioned in 1966 and was said to be state of the art for its time. Organizers say the submarine was named after Will Rogers because of his strong support of the military. Joe Carter with Will Rogers Memorial "He championed armament. He told America to start arming before World War II started and he believed in a strong military." Marsh recalls watching old Will Rogers' movies aboard the sub as well as reading books about his life. But he says nothing compares to visiting the home of one of America's greatest leaders just days before Independence Day. "Then next week, with this fresh in our memory, to further celebrate the birth of our nation just adds frosting on the cake so to speak." For the men and women who served onboard the USS Will Rogers, the re-union is almost over. But they say the insight into life of Will Rogers, will last them a lifetime.
The USS Will Rogers was in service for nearly 26 years and was de-commissioned in 1992. It was based mainly in Scotland. The submarine had an explosive capability greater than all the bombs of World War II.