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The citation given by the President of the United States upon the posthumous awarding of the Navy Cross said in part: "Lieutenant Orleck calmly and expertly directed the fire-fighting activities, the control of serious flooding and the transfer of all survivors to the rescue ships. Valiant and determined in the face of imminent peril, he remained aboard the stricken NAUSET in an attempt to beach her and prevent total loss, working desperately until she struck an enemy mine and sank. Lieutenant Orleck's indomitable fighting spirit and selfless devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Navy."

Lieutenant Orleck who had received numerous other medals during his life was honored with the rare naming of a ship, a United States Destroyer, after him. The ship was approved on 11 January 1945, launched 12 May 1945 and commissioned on September 15, 1945. It is from humble beginnings that a great ship with a great history developed.

Having been commissioned right at the end of World War II the ship entered into service at the beginning of what became known as the "Cold War" and through all those years she operated in that atmosphere with her service primarily in the 7th Fleet in the Pacific. Through that era and into the times of Korea, Vietnam, up until 1982 she served her country well. She always had good crews. She always out performed other ships of her kind. In Korea she was the initiator of the "Train Busters Club" in that she took out two enemy supply trains in the mountains as she silently and without lights waited in a cove for the train to approach, then opened fire shooting out the tracks before the train and then behind. At that point she would then spend the necessary time to blow the remainder of thetrain apart. This remarkable accomplishment was performed on two different occasions. After that, other ships got the idea and many performed the same feat.

During Vietnam she gained the reputation of Top Gun, having fired more rounds in support of our ground troops than any other ship. She developed the nickname, "Grey Ghost of the Vietnam Coast" because she always seemed to be there to provide fire cover for pinned down marines who called for her assistance.At the later part of her service she was used as a training vessel for our Naval Reserve Forces. At times she starred in movies and her most notable was in "Winds of War" mini-series. Those 5 inch guns you saw Pug Henry in front of. menacingly turning looking for its target, are her guns.

In December 1962 in what allowed her to continue as an active and effective Naval vessel she underwent what is known as a FRAM modernization. In this process she was equipped with the most modern equipment and weapons found on destroyers including ASROC Missile Launchers and DASH Systems which were unmanned helicopter drone systems that could launch offensive attacks on submarines. With these improvements she now had the capability to meet the needs of the modern Navy that required her to be able not only to be effective against subsurface and surface ships but also to be effective in anti-aircraft situations as well.

Copyright © 2014. All Rights Reserved. USS Orleck Naval Museum.

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