Rain and High Water Didn't Stop This Crew of Shipmates from Honoring a Historic Ship at Army Depot

by Brigitte Rox, CCAD Public Affairs

USS Albemarle - USNS Corpus Christi Bay Association members pose with CCAD Commander, Col. Billingsley G. Pogue III. Pictured (from left to right): Ron Reid, Chaplain; Col. Pogue, CCAD, Commanding; Tom Townley, Bell Ringer; Art Earl, Association President; Les Weinstein, New Member. Photo by Ervey Martinez (RELEASED)

CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (May 16, 2016) --Monday morning’s heavy rains, flooding, and gate closures at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi (NASCC) could not keep three busloads of old shipmates and their families that made up the USS Albemarle – USNS Corpus Christi Bay Association for a once in a lifetime opportunity to remember the ship that brought them all together.

The Corpus Christi Army Depot (CCAD) hosted the event as a special anniversary reunion and memorial service in Hangar 44, Monday morning, May 16, 2016.

Guests were not bothered by the one-hour set-back to the itinerary when bad weather delayed their event. They had traveled from all corners of the nation on Friday and had a full itinerary to reminisce of the last time they docked on Corpus Christi shores.

The commemoration coincided with the ship’s 75th Anniversary as USS Albemarle and its 50th Anniversary as USNS Corpus Christi Bay.

At the event, Col. Billingsley G. Pogue III shared CCAD's mission from its earliest days to its current operations, assuring the crews of USS Albemarle and USNS Corpus Christi Bay that, like the missions they served in the 20th century, aviation readiness lives on through the depot.

Approximately 101 association members were in attendance. Of those in attendance, fifty of them served on the ship during World War II when it was known as USS Albemarle or during the Vietnam War as USNS Corpus Christi Bay. This includes one World War II veteran, four others who served on USS Albemarle and 45 who served on USNS Corpus Christi Bay.

USS Albemarle (AV-5) served a number of missions between 1940 and 1960 before it was decommissioned and later renovated and then recommissioned as a floating maintenance depot for the Army in 1965.

Serving as an extension of CCAD, (then called Army Aeronautical Depot Maintenance Center (ARADMAC)), the ship brought nearly every depot maintenance and repair process to the shores of Vietnam.

This proximity to the combat zone was a game-changer in Army Aviation. Damaged and inoperable aircraft were sent to the maintenance ship for a quick eight-day repair and return that would have taken 18 days to complete had they sent it overseas to ARADMAC.

After the service, the former servicemen and their families toured the CCAD and NASCC grounds and shared memories over lunch at the base’s Catalina Club diner.

 

Designated a Center of Industrial and Technical Excellence for rotary wing aircraft, Corpus Christi Army Depot ensures aviation readiness through overhaul, repair, modification, retrofit, testing, recapitalization, and modernization of helicopters, engines and components. This effort includes world-wide on-site field maintenance teams, analytical crash investigations and chemical material process facilities. CCAD serves as a depot training base for active duty Army, National Guard, and reserve units. CCAD, as South Texas' largest industrial employer, employs more than 5500 personnel and contractors providing an overall economic impact of more than $1.14 Billon to the local community.