Monday, May 31, 2010

Fired in Salute...

My grandfather was in the Navy during World War II. One night, when I was about 17, he told me his story about the King of Arabia. He was aboard the USS Murphy when they picked up the King of Saudi Arabia to meet with President Roosevelt. The meeting is documented in history, but his stories were not.

The King would apparently not set foot on the ship, so the deck was covered in rugs. He would only eat fresh meat, so there was a herd of sheep on deck as well. One day, he and a couple of his Navy buddies snuck into the throne room, and took turns sitting on the throne. If they had been caught, the consequences would have been quite severe. One of the King’s guards gave my grandfather a coin and a handwritten note. Unfortunately, it was written in Arabic, so he didn’t know what he had written. He showed me the note that night, but had never had it translated. I’m not sure what ever became of the note after he passed away. The shell in the picture was from when they fired salute to the King. He managed to get a hold of one somehow and saved it. The coin he received from the King’s guard he had adhered to the shell and later engraved. The engraving says, “Fired in Salute to King of Arabia Aboard the U.S.S. Murphy. February 12, 1945.”

He gave me the shell that night. It was pretty amazing, and I was shocked and honored that he would give this to me. I’ve kept it for years now. Often wondering what the heck I was going to do with it, but I just can’t part with it. It’s a piece of history that no one else owns.

You can read more about the USS Murphy, and when it was spit in half, then repaired and redeployed. There was a documentary a few years ago, on Discovery I think. That’s another really interesting story in itself.