Hogansville mayor attends commissioning of USS Little Rock

Published 7:13 pm Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Although it’s been almost 50 years since he served in the U.S. Navy, Hogansville Mayor Bill Stankiewicz attended the commissioning for the USS Little Rock LCS9, named after the ship he served on, in Buffalo, New York, on Dec. 16. Stankiewicz served in the U. S. Navy from 1962 to 1968 and was a Radarman on the USS Little Rock (CLG-4) in 1963.

“I served on the USS Little Rock, which was a guided missile cruiser in the ‘60s, and we have an association of sailors who served on that ship, and I’m the president of that association,” Stankiewicz said.

Ray Mabus, former Secretary of the U.S. Navy and one of Stankiewicz’s shipmates, helped arrange commissioning and naming of the boat.

“We have about 1,000 members (in the association). One of our members and a shipmate of mine was a gentleman by the name of Ray Mabus, and Ray went on to become the governor of Mississippi and then Secretary of the Navy,” Stankiewicz said. “He was primarily responsible for having a new ship that was being built named Little Rock. He was also responsible for having the new ship commissioned alongside the old USS Little Rock, which is a museum ship in Buffalo.”

The commissioning was the first time in U.S. Naval history that a ship was commissioned next to its namesake. It was commissioned at Canalside Buffalo next to the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park.

“It was supposed to be this summer, but it got delayed because of the process of having sea trials and having the ship accepted by the Navy,” Stankiewicz said.

The Hogansville mayor spent the week of the commissioning celebrating with others. Approximately 9,000 people attended the commissioning.

“The ship was commissioned on Saturday morning in 20-degree weather and in snow. It was brutal, and it’s an outside ceremony,” Stankiewicz said. “But nonetheless it was exciting for all of us old guys who had served on the old ship. There were about 80 of us there. We had a great time.”