Order of the Drum

Following are the events leading up to the presentation of the Courageous Order of the Drum to former Lt. Harry A. Dick, Jr., USNR, leading watch officer of the USS Cabildo. His comments are that he had nothing to do with the preparation of this most magnificent of commendations except for being in the right place at the right time.

We had, probably the previous day, been steaming South toward Manila. It was a beautiful day and we had the bimini cover rigged over the flying bridge to protect from the sun. The ocean was a beautiful blue and the horizon a sharp line in the distance. The lookouts reported something on the horizon which at first looked like a tiny hump and so far away it was impossible to even guess what it might be. We really weren’t concerned since the war was over and we had been steaming the night before with running lights lit and felt relatively safe, so the object, whatever it was, just invited our attention, not our alarm.

As we steamed in its general direction it became larger, as did our imaginations, and we thought it might be the conning tower of a submarine showing just above the horizon and so informed the Captain of our suspicions. Memory says we flashed a recognition signal and received nothing in return. Keeping the Captain advised of these activities, he became interested and ordered me to adjust course to close on the unknown object. As to when we went to General Quarters escapes me, but sometime later we were able to identify a very large cylindrical object, probably a submarine net float but in any event a very large drum. Not to lose an opportunity to target practice, the Captain gave us permission to sink the drum since it was a danger to navigation. The 5" gun was brought into action and scored several direct hits.

That evening Captain Holdorff joined us for dinner, causing me to wonder why since it was not a common practice. As the table was cleared for dessert and coffee, the Captain made the presentation and to the delight of all, old Harry got his one and only medal of commendation and for which he has been eternally grateful as evidenced by the fact he has retained it for 53 years.

Dr. Theodore Berry dispensed humor as well as pills, adding to the fun of the only bright moment of an otherwise dull day at sea in 1945 by creating and presenting the following award.

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