FFG 55 Elrod
Placed into commission nearly 30 years earlier, the guided-missile frigate USS Elrod (FFG 55) was decommissioned 30 January 2015 during a Naval Station Norfolk ceremony, led by Cmdr. Brad Stallings, commanding officer. Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Raymond Descheneaux, delivered remarks as the guest speaker while Capt. John Wade, Destroyer Squadron 28 commodore, presided over the event. Three members of namesake Maj. Henry T. Elrod's family were also in attendance: William, Kelly, and Mark Elrod. "I'm proud of this ship and its legacy of service, especially her performance in the last year of her life," said Stallings. "It's a somber occasion to decommission her, but an honor to be part of her final crew."
The ship was christened and launched on May 12, 1984 in Bath, Maine, the 45th Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate. Elrod was commissioned on May 18, 1985 and originally homeported in Charleston, South Carolina before shifting to Norfolk in 1995. The ship completed five deployments to the Arabian Gulf, the third one following Operation Desert Storm. In the 1990's, Elrod participated in numerous exercises with NATO allies and deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
The USS Elrod deployed as part of a Surface Strike Group on April 30, 2004 in support of the global war on terrorism.
USS Elrod (FFG 55) returned to Naval Station Norfolk on Sept. 17, 2004, from a four-and-a-half month deployment in support of the global war on terrorism (GWOT). Elrod had left Norfolk on April 30, 2004, accompanied by the guided-missile destroyers USS Ross (DDG 71) and USS Ramage (DDG 61). During the deployment, Elrod carried out Maritime Interdiction Operations in support of Operation Active Endeavor, anti-submarine warfare exercises with NATO forces in both the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility. Elrod also participated in Operation Atlas Shield, which provided maritime protection for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.
Elrod deployed again in 2008, 2010, and 2012. Her 2012 Caribbean deployment resulted in the confiscation of record amounts of illegal narcotics. Her final deployment was in 2014, and it took her back to the Mediterranean to conduct maritime security operations with the MQ-8B Fire Scout.
Elrod last deployed in 2014, to the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations to advance national security interests in Europe and Africa, conduct maritime and theater security operations and participate in partner-building exercises. The ship and her crew patrolled the central Mediterranean in support of Operation Active Endeavor, provided support for the safe passage of M/V Morning Glory, and assisted the amphibious assult ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) in the rescue of 282 persons in distress.
Ship's Shield and Crest
The ship's crest is a heraldic representation of USMC Major Henry T. Elrod's heroic actions during the Battle of Wake Island in December 1941. It was during this battle the Major Elrod was killed and for his actions was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
The colors, blue, red, and gold (yellow) are those of the Navy and the Marine Corps. The chevron in the shield has fifteen crenellations to represent the number of days the embattled Marines held Wake Island against a vastly superior Japanese invasion force. The fireball in the upper part of the shield represents major Elrod's single-handed sinking of the Japanese destroyer KISARGI after being the sole U.S. plane to penetrate a squadron of enemy fighter-bombers protecting the Japanese battle group. Similarly, the pheons on both sides of the fireball represent the two Japanese planes shot down by Major Elrod. The broken aviators wings and the war hammer symbolize Major Elrod's further distinguished actions in ground combat after all the aircraft in his squadron had been destroyed. The hammer also signifies the destructive force of the guided missile frigate ELROD.
Major Elrod's service as a Marine Officer is symbolized by the unsheathed Mameluke sword, which also draws attention to the fact the he was among the first to engage the Japanese in World War II. The blue background and thirteen stars represent the Medal of Honor awarded to Major Elrod for his heroic actions on Wake Island. The gold wreath, pointed downward, commemorates his honorable death in action.
Henry T. Elrod
Born in Rebecca, Georgia, on Sept. 27, 1905. He earned the Medal of Honor posthumously during World War II while serving as Captain, USMC, at Wake Island on Dec. 8 through the 13, 1941, during the initial Japanese invasion of the island.
Captain Elrod was missing in action (MIA) following the attack, and was promoted to the rank of Major in-absentia. It was later proven that he was killed in action and was subsequently buried in Section 12 of Arlington National Cemetery.
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