July 25, 2006

The Longest Trip Home

Long-time readers of this site know that one of my pet interests is Operation Enduring Service, an effort of not-for-profit Beauchamp Tower Corporation to make the best practical use of retired U.S naval vessels currently facing the cutting torches of scrapyards.

Most of my focus has been on one aspect of OES, the creation of a disaster response fleet I long ago dubbed the "Salvation Navy." Negotiations for that part of the program are currently being worked out at the highest levels of state and federal government, but another part of the program hasn't received as much attention, and that is the restoration of World War II-era warships, beginning with the DD-574 John Rogers, the last of the serving Fletcher-class destroyers.

DD-574 John Rogers served in the Pacific theater of World War II, serving in raids and amphibious landings in places with names like Tarawa, Wake Island, Bougainville, Kwajalein Atoll, and Guam, where Rogers fired more than 3,600 shells to knock out Japanense defenses. Rogers also served of Iwo Jima and the invasion of Okinawa, and in July of 1945, participated in what was the deepest naval penetration of the war. Destroyer Division 25's anti-shipping sweep that came within 1½ miles of the Japanese shoreline. John Rogers steamed into Toyko Bay in September of 1945, having fought in almost every major offensive campaign of the Pacific theater.

John Rogers was decommissioned after the war like many destroyers, and was transferred to Mexico in 1968. The destroyer was renamed the E-01 Cuitlahuac in honor of the Aztec emperor. On July 16, 2002, more than 60 years after being launched, the longest-serving Fletcher was retired by the Mexican Navy.

But that was not to be the end of the story.

On December 7, 2005, 65 years to the day that the Japanese launched an attack on Pearl Harbor plunging America into World War II, CEO Ward Brewer of Beauchamp Tower Corporation signed a transfer agreement to return the ship to American hands.

Tomorrow, Ward Brewer's team from BTC, milblogger John Donovan of Argghhh!, and documentary film crew will fly to Mexico to tow John Rogers from the Mexican Pacific coast to the shipyard in Mobile, Alabama where the last serving Fletcher-class destroyer will be restored for future genrations.

In the coming days, follow the story of the Rogers repatriation at Argghhh!, starting with John's first post, A Series of Fortuitous Events. I'll also have commentary here at Confederate Yankee.

It has been 63 years since the DD-574 was launched on the Texas Gulf Coast, but the John Rogers is finally beginning the longest trip home.

Update: The Operation Enduring Service Weblog is back up and running at a new address:

Posted by Confederate Yankee at July 25, 2006 11:08 AM | TrackBack

I've been trying to find out more about Ward Brewer, Beauchamp Tower Corp and Operation Enduring Service. But the BTC site is down, and all the searches I do come up as being fluff or self referential. Even Volunteer Match says there are no volunteer positions open. WTF? Seems a bit strange for a not-for-profit group not to have volunteer positins. Can you provide more detail?

Posted by: Larry at July 25, 2006 12:43 PM

CY, thanks to you keeping the light on for BTC. With people like you, this will be one of the best restorations of US Navy ships ever done. Let's wish them good sailing and God's speed and I wish that I could be there when she docks in Mobile, Ala. I will be there when the other ships come HOME after the long battle.
Dan, BTC Texas
P.S his server is down now and will be up later

Posted by: Dan Howell at July 25, 2006 01:43 PM


I can handle those questions.

Web Site
The BTC web site ( is presently offline and will be so for a few weeks. To make a long story short, the person at BTC who registered the site died in a tragic car accident. As everything was registered through him, it more difficult to getting the domain renewed. It could be a few weeks to get everything sorted out, simply because BTC is focused on getting the John Rogers home safely.

BTC's web site is now parked at a new URL,, but as all the links appear to be absolute links (using the full domain string, instead of relative addressing), it might be a day or two till all the links work properly. Be patient, and we’ll get it sorted out. Alternatively, use Google's cache to view stored pages of the site. That is how I got the link I have to BTC in the post above.

About BTC’s visibility/Volunteer positions/etc
Ward Brewer should probably handle this, but he's packing for the trip, so I'll do the best I can. Besides, he’s used to me stepping on his toes. :-)

You are correct in that many non-profit are high-profile volunteer organizations—the Red Cross, Salvation Army—but BTC isn't structured as the kind of organization you are thinking of.

BTC doesn't directly work with individual volunteers, but with the management of those kind of groups. It might help to think of BTC as something of a procurement and project management group, coordinating among various organizations and corporate donors. It is different than what you are used to, because it is a different kind of not-for-profit organization.

As for why you can’t find a lot of stuff on the internet about Ward Brewer, Beauchamp Tower Corp and Operation Enduring Service… well, Ward isn’t that self-promoting, and they haven’t done a lot yet that the media and would find interesting.

Hopefully, bring the John Rogers home will help to start showing what BTC can do, and generate some interest in the media.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at July 25, 2006 01:58 PM

...64 years to the day the Japanese attacked Peal Harbor

Posted by: bws53 at July 25, 2006 04:02 PM

Nice story CY. If any ship deserves restoration, it sounds like it would be John Rogers.

I am sure you have mentioned it, but how do these organizations afford to perform these restoration projects?

Posted by: Johnny at July 25, 2006 07:58 PM