"I believe every career oriented junior officer who has the opportunity to serve in a destroyer looks forward to the day he assumes command of a Tin Can." These are Captain Garette Lockee's words. He speaks knowingly on the matter, as well as from a strong sense of pride and accomplishment, having commanded TURNER from 1960 to 1962.
When Commander Lockee assumed command, he was a seasoned officer. In 1943 after his commissioning, he was assigned to the USS LAWS (DD-558) which (as was the wartime practice) soon found itself joining Task Force 58 and the fighting in the Pacific. At war's end, the LAWS had steamed over 100,000 miles, fired more than 5,000 rounds from each gun and had participated in nine major campaigns. Of the nine destroyers making up DESRON 55, only the LAWS escaped battle damage. Three were sunk and the other five were severely damaged.
During his career, Captain Lockee served in seven destroyer/cruiser type ships, and from this experience he tells us, "... both officers and crewmen develop faster in destroyers than in any other type of ship." He continues, "... there is much satisfaction to be gained from serving in these capable ships." But, he also notes, "... destroyer men live a pretty rough life."
Did somebody say, "I'll drink to that."?
"USS TURNER (DDR-834) provided me with the greatest thrill of my active duty lifetime." Why? Because of a loyal, devoted and capable crew: the 'Turner Tigers'. They all lived up to the nickname, which leads Captain Lockee to write, "To all my shipmates - I say to you unhesitatingly - A HEARTY WELL DONE."
Since retiring from the Navy, he acquired some bird dogs which he trained, bred, developed, hunted, campaigned and field trialed. The result: a super dog, which won 11 championships, six runner-up championships and 25 other major placement field trials. Her photo hangs in the Field Trial Hall of Fame at the National Bird Dog Museum in Grand Junction, Tennessee, as does Captain Lockee's. He is the founder of Bird Dog Foundation, Inc.
Editors note: If you go through Grand Junction and you see a fella with a bird dog, gazing as if out to sea (you know the look), stop and visit.