USS Des Moines Memories Kept Alive by Veterans Group

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- The USS Des Moines has not been in service for the United States Navy since the year 1961. Those who served for years aboard the ship tried to save the vessel, but it was cut up for scrap metal in 2007.

"Des Moines' job was to protect the fleet carrier attack group," said Jim Chapman, a U.S. Marine who was stationed aboard the USS Des Moines in the late 50's. "We provided large-caliber gun fire if Marines on the beach called for help."

Chapman, who lives outside of New Castle, Wyoming, said he served as an orderly for the Admiral of the 6th Fleet. He noticed while waiting in the Admiral's lobby one day, a set of silverware donated to the ship by the City of Des Moines.

Efforts to try to prevent the USS Des Moines from being scraped were not successful. The USS Des Moines Reunion Association tried to raise money to tow the ship for restoration but were not successful.

"We were trying to establish enough funding to at least have the Des Moines not be scrapped," Chapman said. "We weren't quite there because of the huge sum involved. We were able to salvage the anchor and chain from the Des Moines, and it was sent up to Quincy, Massachusetts."

He added it is on display with one of its sister ships at Quincy.

The USS Des Moines Reunion Association has met every year for the past 40 years. The last reunion will be held in August of this year in Pennsylvania.

Chapman said members of the association are getting up there in years, many with health issues, making it hard to travel.

The Des Moines Iowa model of the USS Des Moines can be found on a stair landing in Des Moines' City Hall.