A piece of the U.S.S. Dyson returns to Orange after 69 years
Eugene Goudeau can recall the torpedos flying at the U.S.S. Dyson destroyer like it was yesterday, as well as the dark, cramped quarters that he called home while floating on the waters of the Pacific during World War II.
He remembers it all clear as a bell … in a sense.
Approximately three years ago, Godeau was able to see the bell that was on the U.S.S. Dyson for the first time since his service days, collecting dust in a warehouse in Baton Rouge.
“The captain of the Dyson, named Roy Gano, was given the Navy Cross after the war and he was also given the ship’s bell,” Goudeau said. “From what I understand, he kept it in his garage until he died.”
Upon his death, Gano’s son took the bell to a memorial for the U.S.S. Kidd in Baton Rouge.
“He was hoping to find someone who may have served on the Dyson,” Goudeau said. “I assume his heart skipped a beat when he found a guy at the memorial wearing a U.S.S. Dyson Little Beaver Squadron hat.”
The man under the brim of that hat was Joe Malone, who happened to volunteer at the memorial for the U.S.S. Kidd. It wasn’t long before Goudeau said he received a contact letting him know his ship’s old bell was in Baton Rouge.
“I decided I’d go over and see it so I drove over there,” Goudeau said. “When I got there I couldn’t find it anywhere. So I asked a clerk and she said that she had no idea.”
After the clerk got him in touch with the director of the memorial, Goudeau learned that they just had the bell sitting in a warehouse.
“I asked the director if I could bring the bell back to Orange, because that is where it really belongs,” Goudeau said.
The reason he says that is because the U.S.S. Dyson was built by Consolidated Steel Corp. in Orange and was commissioned on Dec. 30, 1942. The ship was one of 12 Fletcher-class destroyers built by the hands of Orange shipbuilders.
“The director of the Kidd memorial said that he would check and see,” Goudeau said. “If the bell was on loan he couldn’t give it to me, but he could if it had been donated.”
Once it was found that the bell was given to the memorial, Goudeau was allowed to come pick it up and bring it home.
“I wanted it to be displayed, but I really didn’t feel like going through all the red tape with the City of Orange,” he said. “Besides, they probably would have just stuck it in a warehouse like the memorial in Baton Rouge did.”
Goudeau contacted Ron Emmert, chairman of the Heritage Veterans Memorial, located at 3810 Martin Luther King Drive next to the First Church of the Nazarene, and he said that Emmert expressed an interest in having the bell displayed there.
Emmert said that about eight months of preparation went into getting a proper stand built for the bell, which now hangs beside the Heritage Veterans Memorial plaza.
“This is not only a great thing for the veterans of Orange County, but also for those who worked, or who had family that worked, in the shipyards of Orange,” Emmert said.
This Sunday at 6 p.m. will be the eighth annual tribute to county veterans at the plaza. Emmert said that he also hopes that those somehow involved in the shipbuilding trade during wartime are also able to attend.
“We would love to be able to honor them for their service as well,” he said.
For more information on the history of service of the U.S.S. Dyson, go to destroyers.org which is The National Association of Destroyer Veterans Web site.