DESTROYER USS ORLECK DD 886 ASSOCIATION
Foreword on Deck Logs Project Remembrances By Robert L. Orleck
The USS ORLECK “Deck Logs Project” has to rank high with the most energetic projects that have ever been undertaken by any naval reunion organization to preserve the history of their ship. As Executive Director and Reunion Coordinator for our group, I was blessed to be able to enlist one of our gifted sailors, Gary Peters, to begin this wonderful project. Sadly, Gary died long before its completion. Without missing a beat, another sailor with the same exceptional talent and love for his ship, John Barrios, took the lead from Gary, worked together with our volunteers, doing so much work distributing and with his wife, Sandy, in a team effort, proofing and editing the work they did. He collaborated with our extraordinary webmaster, Thor Hanson, to see that they were properly displayed on our website so anyone could search the thirty-seven years of history they represented.
At my request John has written his remembrances (see below) of those who worked so diligently as transcribers, to create this wonderful tool for anyone wanting to know.
These deck logs have been on-line and searchable for researchers at our website at Deck Logs – Destroyer USS Orleck Association for almost two decades and now have been made available at our request for use by the JAX Naval Museum at www.jaxnavalmuseum.org/uss-orleck-d-886/uss-orleck-dd-886-deck-logs/. We are thankful to be able to make those logs available for future researchers of history on the most decorated American warship since WWII.
Lt. Joseph Orleck, namesake for USS ORLECK, would be proud to know she is in Jacksonville. That’s where she was meant to be!
USS ORLECK (DD-886) DECK LOGS PROJECT REMEMBERANCES
By John Barrios, USS ORLECK 1970-1973
In 2001, I remember seeing postings on the USS ORLECK Association website from Gary Peters, asking for volunteers to work on a “Special Project.” I eventually gave him a call and he described the project as transcribing all 445 deck logs from the USS ORLECK’s 37 years of
service and making them available to the public. I told him I’d be willing to give him a hand. Come to find out, he lived just a few blocks from where I worked in Sacramento. As I began to settle into my duties as a volunteer transcriber I’d just swing by his house, drop off a completed deck log, pick up my next assigned log, swap stories for a while, and be on my way.
In late 2002, I received a call from Gary, and without any chitchat, he asked me what I thought about taking over the Deck Logs Project (Project), because he had just been diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. After a moment of stunned silence, I asked if I could give it some thought and get back to him. He agreed and that was the end of the conversation. After a few minutes thinking about the various aspects of what was involved, I decided that I would agree to
take over the Project. I contacted Gary and told him I would do it. He had previously shared a lot of information regarding who was doing what on the Project, and we agreed that the Project management should shift over to me as soon as possible. Through the entire transition time, I had nothing but support from Bob Orleck and all those who were involved with the Project. It was very much appreciated, especially since I could see that Gary’s physical condition was quickly deteriorating.
Then came a challenge. Dave Emerson, who had been performing the copying duties of the deck logs at the National Archives at College Park, Maryland, informed us that he was relocating to Florida and would be unable to continue with those duties. Dave had been doing an excellent job and had provided Gary with copies of many years’ worth of logs, and since he was giving us a bit of warning, we had a little time to try to find a replacement. Once again, Bob provided a great deal of support in putting the word out that we were looking for someone to step in for Dave. Joe McGuire answered the call. With some guidance from Dave, Joe performed those
duties for the remainder of the Project. I’ll come back to both Joe and Dave a little later. In April 2003, Gary died. He was interested in the status of the Project until the end.
Although the transcribers were doing a fantastic job at the time, more help was still needed, and we were always looking for more transcribers. During the 2003 USS ORLECK reunion in Hawaii, I talked to many Association members, and their wives, about how they could help as transcribers. As a result, we added six new transcribers, a large and welcome addition to the Project.
The procedure for making the logs available on the USS ORLECK Association website started with Joe copying the logs and then sending them to me. I would start an electronic
version of the log and send it to a transcriber along with the actual log. Upon completion of the transcription, the electronic version and the actual log would be returned to me for editing and uploading to the web site. The log was then put with other completed logs, with the plan being that they would eventually go to wherever the ship’s museum was located.
At this point, I’d like to go back to Dave Emerson and Joe McGuire. Dave Emerson got the
project started by copying the logs from the ship’s commissioning in September 1945, through the end of 1959 at Archives II in College Park, MD, just over 14 years of service. Joe McGuire took over the copying process in May 2003, obtaining copies of logs from 1960 through 1973, another 14 years. Joe estimated that 17,600 original log sheets were copied at the Archives II location, covering the first 28 plus years of USS ORLECK’s service.
Then came another challenge. The logs from 1974 through USS ORLECK’s decommissioning in 1982 were located at the Washington Navy Yard under cognizance of the Ship History Branch, Naval Warfare Division, and not so readily available. Additionally, the format of the logs changed in July 1974, which had the effect of increasing the number of pages per log. With a large number of pages yet to be copied, Joe ran into a number of obstacles, and for a while it was questionable as to whether or not we would be able to obtain copies of the final logs. We were in uncharted waters; no one had dealt with a request for copies of logs of the magnitude we were requesting.
However, through a variety of correspondence and persistence, Joe was able to break through the barriers and acquire the copies of the remaining logs. Rather than copying logs to paper as was done at Archives II, Joe scanned the original logs from 1974 through 1978 to a computer and then copied them to CDs. Since 1979, all ship’s logs have been copied and maintained as microfiche and the original paper logs are no longer available. For a fee, Joe was able to get the Naval Warfare Division to make microfiche copies for 1979 through USS ORLECK’s decommissioning in 1982. The CDs and microfiche copies were sent to me and were subsequently used for making hard copies for use by transcribers.
As stated above, the format of the deck logs changed in July 1974. From that time through decommissioning, the logs contained a great many more entries. For example, what was listed in older logs as “maneuvering on various courses and speeds,” in the later logs each of those course and speed changes were entered. So, in order to keep the transcribing to a reasonable amount, and yet be consistent with previous logs, I went through the later logs one by one and highlighted the entries to be transcribed. I also put the word out to the transcribers that if they saw something that they felt that I missed, or saw entries that they felt should be transcribed, go ahead on it, and they did.
Now, for the transcribers. The following volunteers (listed in alphabetical order) did it all. If I left anyone off the list, I apologize:
Anna Barrios, John Barrios, Sandy Barrios, Chris Begnal, Bill Blush, Richard Bortels, Diana Bowen, Charles Burkhardt Jr., Homer Castille, Frank Correia, Joseph Correia, Charlie DiMaria, Meredith DiMaria, Dave Emerson, James Gattis, Jody Gittins, Sherry Gittins, Phil Klotz, John Langerock, Barbara Orleck, Gene Petefish, Gary Peters, Robert Ryan, Bob Sales, Dennis “Jerry” Sheil, David Watterman, Norma Wright, Estelle Young, and Doug Zak.
We did eventually get down to the last deck log. As many may recall from some of my Deck Logs Project Status Reports in the Forum on the USS ORLECK Association website site, I referred to a “Mystery Transcriber,” the person transcribing the final Deck Log (September 1982). Well, that person was none other than our own Barbara Orleck.
In summary, after more than five years and well over 16,000 volunteer hours, the entire thirty- seven-year history of USS ORLECK, as documented in the Deck Logs, is available to anyone interested in going online to the USS ORLECK Association web site and viewing the transcribed logs.
One final word, I’d just like to thank all who participated in the Project. It really was a team effort, and I’d especially like to thank Bob Orleck for his support all the way through, from his original planning with Gary Peters, through the transition time of Project leadership from Gary to myself and continuing on through to the completion.
So, for those of you who served aboard USS ORLECK, go check out the logs, find the period of time that you were on board and let the memories take you back to your younger days.