July 25, 2017


There's a new feature at the Veterans Hall in the Truman Memorial Building on the Independence Square. It's an impressive display featuring a scale model of the USS Sproston (DD-577), a Fletcher- Class Naval Destroyer, along with other mementos collected by the USS Sproston Reunion Group. This great Navy destroyer lovingly called a “Tincan” like all destroyers are called by the sailors who served on them, was first commissioned in 1943 and served honorably during World War II, Korea, the Cold War, and Vietnam before finally being decommissioned in 1968.

Orville Amos, president of the USS Sproston Reunion Group says, “I personally had the greatest honor of my life to have served aboard her from early 1962 to late 1964. During this period she made two deployments to the Western Pacific (which the Navy calls WESTPAC) from our home port of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. These deployments were designed to show the flag and maintain a presence in the Western Pacific and the South China Sea.”

The USS Sproston was one of 175 ships of this class commissioned during World War II. She was named in honor U.S. Navy Lieutenant John G. Sproston who was killed in action while leading an attack on a Confederate ironclad during the Civil War. This destroyer model was built by James McLaughlin, a WW II veteran, and was donated to the USS Sproston Reunion Group upon his death. Orville says, “The ship model came to us with a significant amount of damage so we decided to have it refurbished by a professional model builder; hence the pristine ship model just as she was commissioned in 1943. Special thanks go to Dick Clark, a WW II veteran who sent us the commissioning pennant which is also on display, and also to Vice Admiral James A Sagerholm who provided the clear plastic dome that protects the model.”

Finding someplace to display the model proved to be a challenge. The Truman Library considered housing the display but declined due to the fact that there wasn't a direct connection between President Truman and the USS Sproston. The National World War II Museum in New Orleans also turned down the model because they already have so many Tincans on display. Then Orville approached the Truman Memorial Building about adding it to the Veterans Hall and the USS Sproston DD-577 Model finally found a home.

“The story here is not about a single person but the comradery of a tincan crew,” says Orville. “I always found it amazing that a crew that consists of young men, most between the ages of 17 to 21, could go to sea and make a U S Navy warship function like a well oiled machine. I can't find the words to describe the bond that connects destroyer men, and now women. But I guarantee you that any tincan sailor who reads this will know instantly what I'm talking about. Finally in my 21 year membership in the USS Sproston reunion group I've been privileged to meet some of the most admirable veterans I've ever known. Especially the WW II veterans who served in the last war where ships actually lined up and shot at each other. For any sailor who reads this story I wish them fair winds and following seas.”

You can see the USS Sproston model along with many other displays of military memorabilia, interactive kiosks with video recordings of local Veterans, and the Veterans Courtyard and Memorial Foyer at the Truman Memorial Building located at 416 Maple on the Independence Square, any Monday through Saturday.

If you'd like more information about the USS Sproston you can visit the website www.sproston.com
or contact Orville Amos at oamos541@aol.com.

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