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Rueben James

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Rueben James was the name of the first American Destroyer to be sunk in World War 2. The incident occurred when the Destroyer was escorting a convoy of British and Scandinavian ships off Iceland. The United States was still technically a “neutral” nation but her escort activities could certainly be construed as bordering on belligerence.

The real Rueben James was a Blue Jacket who threw himself under the scimitar of a Barbary Pirate and sacrificed his life to save that of Lieutenant Stephen Decatur who was the Commander of a cutting out party who successfully burned and scuttled USS Philadelphia a frigate that had been captured by the Barbary Pirates after it had grounded off Tripoli.Lord Admiral Horatio Nelson referred to this action as the “Most daring act of this age”. Decatur who was strikingly handsome and an accomplished duelist (he had killed about fifteen or so men in duels and finally was killed in one himself) is quoted by Hawkish Military types to this day for exclaiming as a toast………….”My country in her intercourse with foreign nations .May she always be right.!! BUT RIGHT OR WRONG……MY COUNTRY”.

I like this other toast which is attributed to Decatur by some and by others to Captain Isaac Hull of USS Constitution.

“God and Navies are adored

In times of turmoil but no more

When the trouble’s been requited

God’s forgotten

The Navy slighted.”

The Frigate Rueben James in the picture is a Perry Class guided Missile Frigate of which the Navy built about forty some odd. Perry Frigates where considered the “low end” of Admiral Elmo Zumwalt’s “High , Low mix.

Hugh Curran aka Beartracks

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