EXIT 196

By Betsy Thorpe

Dozens of travelers leave I-40 at Exit 196 everyday, some to visit friends and family, others for fuel, refreshment or lodging. They all have a story to tell and we are here to share a tale or two that we heard at Exit 196.

On September 28, a group of Naval veterans from Dallas Texas arrived at EXIT 196. In route to Norfolk Virginia to attend the decommisioning of The USS Nashville, the ship’s former sailors were proud to discuss the history and legacy of this city’s namesake ship.

The USS NASHVILLE is one of a class of ships designated Amphibious Transport Dock. She was built by Lockheed Shipbuilding Company, in Seattle Washington, and was commissioned at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Washington, on 14 February 1970. She is the fifth battleship to carry the name “Nashville”.

On June 12, 2009, after 39 years of service, the amphibious transport dock USS Nashville returned home to Naval Station Norfolk from its final deployment which started on January 15. The Nashville, serving as the Africa Partnership Station conducted theater security cooperation and maritime partnership training throughout the Gulf of Guinea and West Africa. According to a statement from the Sixth Fleet’s Deputy Commander Rear Admiral Joe Leidig, Nashville sailors’ “exceptional dedication and bold initiative significantly improved Africa partner nation capabilities through joint maritime and expeditionary training events, infrastructure improvement, strategic communication, and community outreach programs.”

On September 30 the amphibious transport dock ship USS Nashville will be decommissioned during a ceremony at Naval Station Norfolk. Following the ceremony, Nashville will be towed to the Naval Inactive Ships Maintenance Facility in Philadelphia where she will be retained in ready reserve.

After the Nashville’s former shipmates left EXIT 196 we pondered the legacy of the USS Nashville and we took a moment to honor and remember the special men and women who answer our nation’s call to duty.

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