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FFG 60 Rodney M. Davis

A ship decommissioning is typically a somber affair. When a ship is commissioned, eager and smiling Sailors bring the ship to life. But the decommissioning ceremony is more like a funeral, as Sailors bid farewell and shed a few tears. USS Rodney M. Davis (Rodney M. Davis), named after Sergeant Rodney Maxwell Davis, USMC, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for sacrificing his life for his fellow Marines on the field of battle in Vietnam. Sgt. Davis wife, Judy, the ships sponsor, christened the ship and was on hand when the ship was commissioned on May 9, 1987. Twenty-eight years later, over forty members of the Davis family joined the crew at the decommissioning ceremony 23 January 2015.

Over 2,000 "Bold Runners" served in Rodney M. Davis over the years. Commissioned May 9, 1987, the ship left for Yokosuka, Japan the following year and spent the first half of her career as part of our Forward Deployed Naval Forces. While assigned to Destroyer Squadron Fifteen, Rodney M. Davis conducted extensive operations in the Western Pacific Ocean and deployed multiple times to the Arabian Gulf, Red Sea, and Gulf of Oman. Mid-career, Rodney M. Davis returned stateside and joined Destroyer Squadron 9 in Everett, Washington. Rodney M. Davis deployed another six times, including three tours of duty in support of Counter-Illicit Trafficking in the Southern Pacific Ocean and a final deployment to the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans.

USS RODNEY M. DAVIS (FFG-60) was the fifty-fourth ship of the Oliver Hazard Perry Class of guided missile frigrates. It has been constructed to provide an in-depth capability against air, surface and submarine threats to military and merchant shipping. With its gun, missile system, torpedoes on board, the SH-60 Seahawk helicopter, can attack targets up, down, and out.

During the late 1600's the British Fleet built a three masted "light nimble ship built with the purpose of sailing swiftly." Fast and powerful enough to capture merchantmen and elude heavier warships, it was called a frigate, a term derived from the earlier Italian word fregata.

The fregata had been a long narrow merchant ship propelled by sails or oars and was common in the Mediterranean during the 16th and 17th Centuries.

Toward the end of the 18th Century, the term frigate had crystalized. It identified a two deck ship with the main, or gundeck, and the upper deck, which had no name until U.S. Navy Sailors christened it the spar deck.

In earlier times, British frigates were used to forewarn homeward bound merchantmen and to escort convoys across the Atlantic and the North Sea. U.S. Navy frigates built during the 1 790's were larger than those built by the British. They were also principally employed for scouting and convoy duty.

Steam frigates began to displace sailing frigates in the 1 850's and were in turn displaced by ironclad ships during the C ivil War. During World War II, the British revived the term frigate for escort vessels which were somewhat smaller than destroyers. Post war frigates of the U.S. Navy were developed to operate in severe weather conditions while coordinating the movements of other ships and aircraft in anti-submarine operations.

The RODNEY M. DAVIS was a frigate of the Oliver Hazard Perry Class. This was a new class of guided missile frigate designed to provide self-defense and protection of shipping in conjunction with other sea forces. The design of the ship was developed in the early 1970's to meet the airborne, surface and subsurface threats of the future, thus ensuring continuous use of essential sea lines of communication for the United States and its allies.

Rodney M. Daviss last mission was Pacific partnership and theater security cooperation, and I feel Sgt. Davis would be proud of what this final crew accomplished. It was a whirlwind six months as we steamed over 37,000 nautical miles and visited seven countries, but here are a few memories that stand out for me. Operating with 49 ships from 22 countries during exercise Rim of the Pacific. Welcoming Davy Jones and making a new crop of trusty shellbacks as we crossed the equator. Joining 50 ships from Indonesia, Singapore, and Australia off the coast of New Guinea in the morning fog for a parade of sail. Visiting Tokyo and listening to the stories of Sailors who climbed Mt. Fuji. Looking out across the Malacca Strait from downtown Singapore, and then steaming through the next day. Being the first US ship to visit the Maldives in over four years. Watching the sun set over the Big Buddha statue while at anchor in Phuket, Thailand. Cultural exchanges with hundreds of high school students in Medan, Indonesia. Deck landing qualifications with a Brunei helo in the 20th year of Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training. Being in Pearl Harbor on Pearl Harbor Day.

Heraldry

SHIELD: Dark blue and gold are the colors traditionally associated with the Navy. The heraldic grenade represents the enemy grenade upon which Sergeant Rodney Maxwell Davis (USMC) threw himself when it landed in the midst of his platoon in Quang Nam Province, Republic of Vietnam, on 6 September 1967. The grenade, with chevrons representing sergeant's stripes, placed on a pale suggesting containment, further symbolizes his brave action which saved the lives of many of his fellow Marines and enabled the platoon to hold its ground.

CREST: The heraldic pelican, believed in antiquity to wound her breast with her long curved bill in order to draw blood for the purpose of feeding her young, is symbolic of Sergeant Davis' selfless act by which he gave his life to save others. The light blue collar with a suspended gold inverted star alludes to the Medal of Honor awarded to him for his heroic act. The sprig of bamboo signifies South Vietnam where Sergeant Davis fought and died.

The complete coat of arms as described above, on a white field enclosed by a dark blue border edged on the outside with a continuous gold rope and inscribed in gold with the words USS RODNEY M. DAVIS at the top and FFG 60 below.

Rodney M. Davis

Rodney M. Davis was born April 7, 1942, in Macon, Georgia. He attended elementary school and high school there and graduated from Peter G. Appling High School, May 29, 1961.

Shortly after graduation, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in his hometown, August 31, 1961; then reported for recruit training with the First Recruit Training Battalion Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina. Upon completion of recruit training in December 1961, he was transferred to the Marine Corps Base, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and under-went Individual Combat Training with the Second Battalion, First Infantry Training Regiment, graduating the following February.

He then joined Company "K", Third Battalion, Second Marines, Second Marine Division, FMF, at Camp Lejeune and served as a rifleman until May 1964. While stationed at Camp Lejeune, he was promoted to Private First Class, April 1, 1962, and to Lance Corporal, January 1, 1964.

Lance Corporal Davis was ordered to London, England, for a three year tour of duty as Guard with the United States Marine Detachment, Naval Activities. He was promoted to Corporal, January 1, 1966, and to Sergeant, December 1, 1966.

Ordered to the Republic of Vietnam in August 1967, he was assigned duty as a Platoon Guide with Company "B", First Battalion, Fifth Marines, First Marine Division. He was operating with his unit in the Quang Nam Province on a search and clear mission during Operation SWIFT, when they were attacked by a large North Vietnamese force. Elements of the platoon were pinned down in a trench line by mortars, heavy automatic and small arms fire. He went from man to man encouraging them on and also returning fire at the same time. An enemy hand grenade fell in the trenches his men were fighting from and without hesitation he threw himself upon the grenade. He saved his fellow Marines in this selfless act and thus earned the nation's highest military decoration . . . the Medal of Honor.

His medals and decorations include: the Purple Heart; the Good Conduct Medal; the National Defense Service Medal; the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal; the Vietnam Service Medal; the Military Merit Medal; the Gallantry Cross with Palm; and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.



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