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USS Barry Display at Great Lakes NEX Brings Naval History to Life

08 November 2022

From John Sheppard, Naval Station Great Lakes Public Affairs

GREAT LAKES, Ill. – Naval Station Great Lakes, the Navy Exchange, the Naval Order of the United States and crewmembers of the former USS Barry (DD-933) came together on Nov. 4, nearly 40 years to the day after she was decommissioned, to celebrate the installation of the Barry stern nameplate on the wall of the NEX at Burkey Mall on Green Bay Road.

The Naval Order of the United States paid for the restoration and transportation of the nameplate.

“The Naval Order is honored to have played a small role in getting the nameplate here,” said Capt. Bob Whitcop, USN-ret., representing the Naval Order of the United States. “The Naval Order plays a role in the preservation of Naval history and this is just one example of what we do.”

“I would like to thank members of the ship’s crew who worked tirelessly on this, especially Mr. Douglas Darch, who put on the hat of a logistics officer and oversaw the transportation and transformation of the ship’s nameplate from being an artifact blowtorched off the hull of the former museum ship to a beautiful commemoration of the ship, her crew and her namesake that we are proud to have on display here at the Quarterdeck of the Navy,” said Capt. Mark Zematis, NSGL executive officer.

The Great Lakes NEX team designed and installed the display.

Leigh Barbour, NEX facilities manager, designed the nameplate mounting and installed it. “Leigh was very engaged in making sure the plate was displayed with dignity,” said Chris Ponchak, Navy Exchange Great Lakes general manager.

Mindy Eddy, NEX photo lab manager, added the additional photos on the display and pulled together a photo album and additional literature.

Theresa Hagen, NEX operations manager, designed the layout on the wall and assisted during the installation.

“When we were offered the opportunity to place the Barry nameplate here, we were very excited about it,” said Ponchak. “There are up to 160,000 family members who come through this door annually to receive their tickets to attend recruit graduations and each and every one of them are going to walk by this nameplate and see this. So I think it’s a great place for it.”

USS Barry (DD-933) was one of 18 Forrest Sherman–class destroyers, and was the third U.S. destroyer to be named for Commodore John Barry. The fourth destroyer named for Commodore Barry, DDG-52, is still in the fleet. Camp Barry, part of mainside south and the current home for Navy Band Great Lakes and the Naval Reserve Center, is also named for Commodore Barry.

Barry was the first captain placed in command of a warship commissioned for service under the continental flag. After the war, he became the first commissioned U.S. Naval officer, at the rank of commodore, receiving his commission from President George Washington in 1797. So he is not only the first commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy, but also the first flag officer.

After her commissioning in 1954, USS Barry (DD-933) served in the Caribbean, Atlantic, Mediterranean, and in the Vietnam War, for which she earned two battle stars.

Decommissioned on Nov. 5, 1982, she became the "Display Ship Barry,” a museum ship at the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., in 1984.

After decades of being a display ship, restoration of Barry to allow her to continue as a museum was believed too expensive. Also, the planned construction of a fixed-span bridge would have trapped her at the Washington Navy Yard. Scrapping was the only realistic option. An official departure ceremony for the ship took place in October 2015, and she was towed away in May 2016 to be scrapped in Philadelphia. Scrapping was completed in February this year.

The nameplate, taken from the stern of the ship, was transferred to the Naval History and Heritage Command. It was renovated and subsequently transported to Great Lakes through the generosity of the Naval Order of the United States. Barry’s former skipper, Capt. Greg Streeter, USN-ret., contacted the base in summer 2021 to find out if NSGL had any interest in displaying the nameplate and received an enthusiastic response from NSGL and the NEX.

“History is… preserved in the form of monuments and memorials,” said Whitcop. “In the case of the USS Barry stern nameplate, you have taken a piece of history and preserved the memory of thousands of things that the stern nameplate represents. And then you placed it here.”


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