Dear Mr. Skelton,
I am writing to you as one of your constituents, as a veteran and as someone who is currently serving in Afghanistan.
You have known me to wear many different hats during the years I have known you as my Congressman. Another hat I currently
wear is that of Special Chair of the USNS CONCORD Decommissioning, for the USS CONCORD Veterans Association. This may be one
of the more unusual requests to cross your desk, but I can assure you this is very important to those of us who served aboard
this beautiful ship during her outstanding service to the U.S. Navy and the people of the United States. In
the early days of her service, she carried a crew of more than 400. In her 40 years of service she was home to several thousand
sailors, who served their country from Vietnam to Iraq.
The CONCORD, a grand and majestic ship, as you can see
in the picture above, with her crews, pioneered and helped perfect the art of underway replenishment at sea, which revolutionized
the Navy’s ability to keep ships on station and in the fight. She was a critical component to the mission of the U.S.
Navy throughout her years of service.
I don’t know if you can comprehend
the relationship that develops between a sailor and his/her ship. The CONCORD holds a special place in the hearts of those
who mustered in as her ship’s crew, and always will. We are saddened at the news of her decommissioning, but the Navy’s
plan to scuttle her and send her to the bottom, is akin to suffering a death in the family. It is a final and permanent separation.
Our request is a simple one. We only want one last look at this gallant lady before she meets
her end. We understand it would be difficult, if not impossible, to host a large contingent of former crewmembers aboard the
CONCORD in her current status as she goes through the decommissioning process. We are only asking that the Navy assign the
most minimal of resources, probably located conveniently at Pearl Harbor, and have a Navy photographer spend a day or two
aboard the CONCORD and photograph our ship in her final days, including that sad moment in time when she slips beneath the
waves to be seen no more. These photos could then be made available to the USS CONCORD Veterans Association for reproduction
and distribution to former crew members.
This request does not seem to us to be excessive, but
I don’t think we can be successful without your intervention and assistance. You have an excellent record of support
for the military, not only at Ft. Leonard Wood and Whiteman AFB, but also the greater military community, including millions
of veterans, during your years of service as a U.S. Congressman. That record and your current position as Chairman of the
Armed Services Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives gives us hope that you will persuade the Navy to accommodate
our desire to see her one last time and to preserve those images for all time.
It is our understanding that our beloved
CONCORD only has a few weeks left, so I would plead with you and your staff to act quickly in our behalf. We will be forever
grateful for your support and assistance.
Randy L. Vick
278 NW 75th
Centerview, Mo 64019
USNS CONCORD Decommissioning
USS CONCORD Veterans Association
Executive Police Advisor
Int’l Police Coordination Board-Secretariat