Marinette, WI -Today, Congresswoman Kay Granger presented the contents for a container that will become a permanent part of the USS Fort Worth during a traditional mast-stepping ceremony. The mast stepping ceremony occurs toward the final stages of a ship’s construction before she is christened.
Placing a coin at the step, or base, of the mast of a newly constructed ship is an ancient tradition, originating with the ancient Greeks and Romans. Today, the custom has expanded to include other items in addition to coins. As legend has it, the custom of placing coins in the mouths of the dead originated from the belief that the coins would ensure payment to the Charon, a figure in Greek mythology, for ferry passage across the River Styx. Because of this tradition, when ships were sent off to battle, enough money was placed in the bottom of a ship’s mast to ensure the entire crew had enough money to pay Charon for passage in the event they did not return. The ritual has survived to this day. Today, items are put in a container that is placed in the base of the mast, as a way to wish the crew safe passage.
Although traditions vary, the selection and placement of coins and items commemorates the ship’s history and heritage, creating an enduring tie between the ship’s crew, sponsor and namesake.
“I am proud to include items that embody the past, present and future of Fort Worth,” said Granger. “Everything included in the container has a deep connection to our city’s heritage and its future, and I hope these items will provide good luck to the ship and its crew over the course of their service. I am deeply grateful to Fort Worth Historical Society, Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Navy for their contributions to this tradition.”
The contents of the container are as follows:
- Six Silver Half-Dollars – Three sets of two half-dollars minted in the same year as the Matrons’ birth dates.
- Four Nametags – One name tag each for the youngest and oldest members of both the Blue and the Gold crew who will sail on the USS Fort Worth. It is naval tradition to honor both the youngest and oldest crew members.
- Three Coins that Represent the Military History of Fort Worth
a. A coin from the 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment. Major Ripley Arnold was assigned to the Second Dragoons of the United States Army when he established Camp Worth on June 6, 1849. The 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, currently stationed in Vilseck, Germany, has traded their horses for Stryker combat vehicles, but still traces their regimental lineage to the Major Worth’s Second Dragoons. The reverse of the coin proudly states “Dragoons!” and “Since 1938, the oldest continuously serving Regiment.” The 2nd Stryker Regiment has the distinction of being the longest continuously serving Regiment in the United States Army.
b. A coin from the 2nd Infantry Division. Major Ripley named Camp Worth after General Williams Jenkins Worth. During the Mexican War, General Worth served under General Zachary Taylor and commanded the 2nd Regular Division, Army of Occupation at the Battle of Monterrey in 1846. He also led the first troops ashore in the United States amphibious landing at Veracruz in March 1847. Major Arnold served under General Worth in the Battle of Monterrey and named Camp Worth in honor of his former commanding officer who had recently passed away. The 2nd Infantry Division Coin commemorates General Worth’s command of the 2nd Regular Division.
c. A coin from the current USS Fort Worth. A coin from the Navy’s newest ship to continue Fort Worth’s long history with the military.
- Three items of personal significance to the ship’s sponsor, Congresswoman Granger
a. Congresswoman Granger’s Member Pin for the current 111th Congress from the U.S. House of Representatives.
b. A key to the City of Fort Worth. This key is a replica of the key taken to the moon in 1969 by Astronaut Alan Bean. Alan Bean, a Fort Worth native, was the fourth man to walk on the moon. This key was donated by former Mayor Bob Bolen, one of Congresswoman Granger’s mentors.
c. A pin to commemorate Fort Worth receiving the All - America City Award in 1993. This award recognizes Fort Worth as a city whose citizens work together to identify and tackle community-wide challenges and achieve uncommon results.
- A button from a tunic of one of the Dragoons who founded Fort Worth. The button is from the sleeve of a soldier of Company F, 2nd Dragoons, commanded by Major Ripley Allen Arnold.
- An arrowhead and partial shaft from the period when Fort Worth was founded. The arrow was fabricated from the metal hoop of a frontier water barrel and donated by Eddie Sandoval of Fort Worth, Texas. This item serves as a reminder of the warrior’s duty, sacrifice, and of the proud heritage of the origins of Fort Worth.
- Part of the exterior composite coating from an F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. This represents how Fort Worth has transformed from an Army camp in 1849 to the world’s premier center for tactical aircraft design and manufacturing. This was donated by Lockheed Martin, the contractor for the USS Fort Worth (LCS3).