Photo of USTDC courtesy of Les Duffin

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Where is the Ship's Bell?

I have often wondered whatever happened to the ship's bell that was located just outside and to the right of the main entrance door at TDC.  I suppose it probably was either given to one of the last senior naval officers assigned to the building or else it's on display somewhere.  Does anyone happen to know?

The bell was on some sort of stand, I believe similar to the one shown in this photo and of course it had a rope attached to the clapper.  As I recall, the bell was only used when we raised the flag at the far left corner of the parking lot on Monday through Friday mornings at 0800 hours (8:00 AM, eight bells).  On weekends, when BMC Gagne (in my day) wasn't there, the person on watch just blew a whistle (one long blast) to raise the flag and then three short blasts to signal whoever had raised it that it was okay to drop his salute and return to the building.  I don't think they trusted us with that bell.

I think I mentioned a couple of years ago that one day another chief in the building had to do the honors of ringing the bell when Chief Gagne had an appointment elsewhere.  Now the backup had never done this before and apparently forgot that it was supposed to be done in four groups of two rings:  ding-ding, ding-ding, ding-ding, ding-ding.  So when his little radio beeped the 8:00 AM signal, he just clanged out eight bells...all at once:  dingdingdingdingdingdingdingding!  It sounded like the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange.

I happened to have flag detail that morning and I clearly remember watching the J-1 (a Navy captain 0-6 at that time) flying out of his office door in the lobby and getting up in the chief's face, inviting him back into his office for a little talk after the ceremony.   The captain was not happy and the chief was definitely not happy.  But the rest of us, including the Chinese color guards who I'm pretty sure were laughing as they raised their flag, all thought it was pretty cool.  But I always felt badly for the chief, who was a really nice guy.  Sometimes these things just happen.

So if anyone knows where the USTDC ship's bell is today, please let me know.  I'd love to ring it a time or two, if only because I wasn't allowed to back in the day.

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