DD/DDE 442


Last updated  2008-08-14
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On August 7th, 2008, a ceremony was held at
the Marine Barracks, Washington DC (
to Leathernecks the world over as "8th and
) rededicating the bell from the USS
NICHOLAS (DD/DDE 449) as a permanent
memorial inside the entryway at Center House

The NICHOLAS was named for the first commissioned officer
in the Continental Naval Service, Marine Capt. (later Major)
Samuel Nicholas, by tradition the first Commandant of the
Marine Corps.  NICHOLAS served in the South Pacific at
Guadalcanal and subsequent operations, usually at "the point
of the spear", earning 16 battle starts in WWII, another 5 in the
Korean Conflict and an additional 9 in the Viet Nam  War, for a
total of thirty.  At the time of her decommissioning, NICHOLAS
was the most decorated warship in the United States Navy.

The NICHOLAS' bell was gifted to the USMC upon the ship's
decommissioning in 1970 and was used on the Parade Deck of
the Barracks for all ceremonial parades  from that point until it
developed a hairline crack in 1997, at which time it was retired,
mounted on a display bar and positioned outside the entrance
to Center House B.O.Q.  at the main entrance to the Barracks.

In 2001, the Marine Barracks Washington’s Public Affairs
Officer contacted the Dave McComb and  
The Destroyer
History Foundation to learn how the bell had come to be at the
barracks in the first place... All the history had been lost to the
Marines in the ensuing twelve years.

Mr. McComb was able to supply the history of the bell, the ship
and the significance of her naming to the Marines.  In 2003, Mr.
McComb devised the idea of a
memorial plaque for the bell and
the cooperative efforts of he, Capt. Antony Andrious (The
current P.A.O.) and the surviving shipmates of the NICHOLAS
culminated in the wording of the plaque and the ceremony on
August 7th.

Earlier this summer, the
McShane Bell Foundry, Glen Burnie,
Maryland, picked up the bell for spin polishing  and clear
coating.  Back at the barracks, it was mounted on a beautifully
finished hardwood backboard by
Miles Enterprises with the
new memorial plaque describing its history, and installed in its
present location inside Center House.

My involvement in this came when Dave McComb, president
and founder of the Destroyer History Foundation, contacted me
to see if I could make up a bellrope for the bell, which was then
to be given to a descendant of the family of Major Nicholas if
one attended..

I so happened to have a suitable bellrope already made and
promptly sent it to Mr. McComb.   

The vagaries of the US Post Office being what they are, it was
just as promptly  lost.

Upon determination that the bellrope would not be delivered in
time, I was able to make up a replacement (and even more
IMHO) bellrope for the ceremony and was then invited
to participate in affixing the rope to the bell.   Seeing the bell
and rope together, Col. Smith asked if it would be possible to
leave it attached to the bell as a permanent exhibit, to which
Mr. McComb gladly agreed.

Many thanks go to Col. Smith, Capt. Andrious, Gy/Sgt William
Price and the entire staff of the Public Affairs Office for making
this a wonderful afternoon for those surviving veterans able to
attend.  They and we were truly honoured.

Needless to say, I am completely delighted:

(1) to have been selected to make the rope in the first place,
(2) to have been in some small way involved in honouring the
NICHOLAS, the Marines and the many crewmen who sailed
"into harms way" aboard NICHOLAS in three conflicts, and
(3) that the Marines thought sufficiently highly of the bellrope to
request it remain with the bell.

12" bellrope with ringbolt hitched eye on brass thimble to four-
step body with cotton fender-hitched cover, carrying seven
turks heads (for the seven seas) and capped by a triple
(12x9x6) star knot at the end with three small star knots
inserted into the body, each representing ten battle stars.

Appx 30 hours.

Turks heads are [top-to-bottom] 3x5 square (a), 5x4 square
(a), 7x6 square (a),  3x9 square (b), 9x8 square (a), 3 x 9
square (b) and an 11x10 square (a).

(a= 3 pass,  b= 4 pass)
Bell as formerly mounted outside
entrance to  Center House
Bill Parker III, Bill Parker of McShane Foundry and
Rick Hartweig of Miles Enterprises who made the
beautiful hardwood backboard mount
Composite picture of
bell, bellrope and plaque
Vince Brennan, installing the bellrope under
the watchful gaze of Mr. McComb
Col. Andrew Smith, Commanding Officer, US Marine
Barracks Washington,  Dave McComb, Pres. of  The
Destroyer History Foundation and John Stone, a
plank-owner of NICHOLAS and her
oldest surviving Officer