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"The JPJ"

Rick Dillard

It was May of '55, at the shipyard known as Bath,
When this warship felt the water... first step in a glorious path.

Four hundred feet of destroyer , had slid down the way,
Officially known as JOHN PAUL JONES, but to her crew as JPJ.

A product of the Cold War, to check the Soviet Bear,
Manned by a crew of warriors, ready to go where no others dare.

Beginning in the Mediterranean, to save a Jordan king,
Then down to blockade Cuba, and stop that missile ring.

From training of midshipmen, future leaders of fleets to be,
To recovery of astronauts, as they land upon the sea.

Her crew had met each challenge, in 11 years of being on station,
She decommissioned in '67, to undergo fleet modernization.

No longer a FORREST SHERMAN Class, was DD Nine-Three-Two,
She was now of the DECATUR Class, DDG Thirty-Two.

Another highly trained crew, took her back to sea,
Armed with a Tartar missile, to deter any foes to be.

From the "Land of the Rising Sun", to the "Land of the Morning Calm",
She sailed throughout WESTPAC, including the waters of Viet Nam.

Avoiding typhoons at sea, as they tried to take a swipe,
Conducting search and rescue, remember that PORTERFIELD snipe?

Operation MARKET TIME, another naval blockade,
Always ready on station, to provide that NGFS aid.

The challenge didn't matter, to any JPJ crew,
Each of them had the mettle, to see the mission through.

Her last official duty, in the place we now call GOO,
During the Iranian Hostage Crisis, to see what the Ayatollah would do.

Her star had shone brightly, in 26 years of sailing the ocean blue,
On December 15th, 1982, she said a final goodbye to her crew.

Most would never see her again, following this sad and solemn day,
But she knew deep within her heart, they were proud of the JPJ.

She had taken boys, and turned them into men,
She had taken them far from home, and brought them back again.

For the next 19 years, she'd recall her muster rolls,
And understand the meaning of..."for whom the bell tolls".

For now it was her turn, to become but a memory,
As her fate had been decided, to die upon the sea.

The thirtieth of January, two thousand and one,
Cast off by the SIOUX, a target for Cruiser Destroyer Group ONE.

Her bow into the seas, her heart felt light,
Vowing to live the motto, "I have not yet begun to fight".

"Bring it on...if you think you can,
It is going to take the lot of you, to sink this tin-can!"

So, in came the Mavericks, to take up this dare,
As they ripped into her hull, fired from the air.

Pummeled with Hellfires, a SM1 and Harpoon,
Her decks were in shambles, the end would come soon.

A twinkle in her eyes, as the final act began to unfold,

To die at the hands, of the fellow tin-can Navy,
Was an end just as fitting, as to live down deep with Davy.

The guns opened up, each ship in succession,
The damage was mounting, from each hit and concussion.

Metal was torn, and thrown into the sky,
Wallowing and sinking, but still with fight in her eye.

Round after round, slashed through her hull,
Only when these ships hauled off, was there ever a lull.

Down by the bow, she started to dip,
Her decks soon awash, as she began at last to slip.

For 2,000 fathoms, she took her final ride,
As she settled on the bottom, she still glowed with pride.

She had shown to all, she'd go out in harm's way,
The outcome would have been different, had she the crews of her day!

The final harbor reached, upon the ocean floor,
The crews are all scattered, JOHN PAUL JONES is no more.

But the Navy does remember, and the end is not in sight,
For the legacy of the JPJ, and the crews she trained to fight.

The JPJ heritage lives on, in DDG Fifty-Three,
an ARLEIGH BURKE tin-can, commissioned in '93.

Like her former namesake, she was built in Bath,
Ready to take on any foe, and unleash her deadly wrath.

But one thing hasn't changed, the caliber of her crew,
For as with the first JPJ, they are dedicated and true.

So an ending is just a beginning, just another Navy day,
Let's take a moment to remember, "Three cheers for the JPJ!"