Ship comes home for first, last time

USS Mississippi cruises into Pascagoula waters bringing along memories
PASCAGOULA - The USS Mississippi came home Friday for the only time in its 18-year history. It will head to a ghost
yard later this year.

The ship's 622 crewmen and officers stood side by side at parade rest in the chilly midmoming breeze as two tugboats
guided her dockside.

The Mississippi will be here for five days, giving the crew time to visit the area and Mississippians a final opportunity to
tour the ship. The U.S. Navy will begin decommissioning the ship in August in Newport News, Va.

The nuclear-powered guided missile cruiser arrived at Naval Station Pascagoula to the strains of a band playing "Go
Mississippi." The song brought back strong memories for Lt. Cmdr. Arlis Ethridge, the ship's supply officer.
The Brandon native remembered has 1962 second-grade class writing a verse for the state song.

"I would have thought I had forgotten that, but hearing the band play it brought it all back," the 15-year veteran said.
Ethridge, who lives with his family in Newport News. was returning to Mississippi for the first time since 1981.
None of his family lives in Brandon anymore, but he plans a trip there over the weekend to check out his old neighborhood.
Ethridge was one of 12 Mississippians aboard the ship named for the Magnolia state, and they all eagerly awaited a
chance to see family or visit familiar places.

"I gotta do a crawfish boil tomorrow, providing they're in season," said Lt. j.g. Mick Glancey, who grew up in Long Beach.
He looked forward to family members meeting him at the dock and to seeing a few Coast Mardi Gras parades.
"The first time I ever saw the Navy was after (Hurricane) Camille when the Seabees came to the Coast," the 33-year-old
recalled. He joined the Navy 14 years ago, working his way up from an enlisted man to an officer. It was his first visit to the
Coast in several years. "I wonder how much crawfish cost now," Glancey said. "Oh, yeah, and what about the casinos?
What have they done to the Coast?"

Like many of the Mississippi's crew, Glancey already knows his next assignment. He won't be helping to decommission the ship.
The USS Mississippi is the fourth ship to bear the state's name. The first was a sidewheel steamer that fought in the Civil War.
The second was a battleship commissioned in 1908, which sailed with President Theodore Roosevelt's "Great White Fleet."
The third served in both the Atlantic and Pacific fleets in World War II. It was also in Tokyo Harbor for the signing of Japan's surrender.

The present USS Mississippi's mission was to provide anti-aircraft and anti-submarine protection to an aircraft carrier task group.
In 1981, the ship sailed alongside the USS Nimitz when its F-14 fighters shot down two Libyan fighter jets.- In 1989, the Mississippi
provided support to the Navy's Battle Force Sixth Fleet off the Lebanese coast in response to the killing of a U.S. Marine colonel by

The ship participated in the Gulf War, providing escort services and launching Tomahawk cruise missiles into Iraq. The Mississippi has
also participated in anti-narcotic operations in the Caribbean.

Monday, the ship's commander will return a historic sterling silver tray bearing the Navy crest to Gov. Kirk Fordice. The heavy tray has
been used aboard the last two ships named USS Mississippi. State officials will keep it until another ship bearing the name is commissioned.

Petty Officer Michael Brandau of Long Beach will stay with the Mississippi until the end because he handles personnel. "It was kinda neat
and ironic to be aboard a ship named for your home state, although after having served aboard an aircraft carrier like the JFK, it was kinda
small," Brandau said. The Mississippi is 585 feet long and 63 feet wide. It has a draft of 30.5 feet

D'lbervflle native Bruce Tickell has spent three years aboard the Mississippi. "This ship was probably the best thing that ever happened to
me," he said. "It's a real good ship, and it's kinda sad to see it go."