BY CAROL ROEHM
---- — DANVILLE – A clock from the decommissioned destroyer USS Kenneth D. Bailey will make its new home at a Danville school that shares its namesake.
Tom Smith of Houston, Texas, will present the clock to the Kenneth D. Bailey Academy students and staff at 9:30 a.m. Thursday at the school’s honors program during which students will receive academic and attendance awards.
Commandant Tom Barrett and the Major Kenneth D. Bailey Detachment of the Marine Corps League and the Danville High School ROTC will present the colors during the event, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance led by student Ashonte Odie and the singing of the National Anthem by DHS junior Christian Cunningham.
Danville YMCA Executive Director Mike Brown will be the guest speaker, and Danyielle Proctor will be recognized for painting the Kenneth D. Bailey mural at the school, 502 E. Main St.
Hillsboro, Ind., residents, Sharon Pederson and Sandy Tarrant, who are Kenneth D. Bailey’s nieces, also will be on hand for the event. Bailey was a Danville High School Class of 1930 graduate who was a Marine, a World War II hero and a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor, which is the highest military award bestowed in the nation. He earned the medal during fighting on Guadalcanal, where he was later killed in action.
“We’re excited,” Principal Tracy Cherry said of the program. “We have some other things planned, too. The clock will be displayed on the Wall of Honor.”
Cherry explained the school’s Wall of Fame will “recognize the members of our community who have served in the military.”
Smith, who served in the Navy, said, “The Kenneth D. Bailey was the last ship I was on from 1968 to 1970.” In an interesting twist, Smith, who is a genealogy buff, said he recently discovered he is Bailey’s cousin, which he did not realize while he served on the ship. He, Pederson and Tarrant also are cousins.
When the destroyer ship was decommissioned in 1970 in Orange, Texas, one of Smith’s crew members removed the clock and “took it home with him,” Smith said.
Last year, Smith’s shipmate died and the man’s wife fulfilled her husband’s wishes by giving the clock to Smith.
A group of crew members from the ship, which was in use from the time it was launched in 1945 until 1970, still get together annually. It was at this year’s gathering of the Kenneth D. Bailey Association that Smith learned about the academy with the same name in Danville.
“We got a hold of Tracy Cherry and (Superintendent) Mark Denman and asked them if they wanted the clock,” Smith said.
He has since mounted the clock, which is a Chelsea clock, on a plaque. Smith said the clock is large, measuring a foot in diameter.
“Chelsea Clock is a famous clock company that made a lot of clocks for the military,” he said.
Using the serial numbers on the clock’s casing, Smith estimates the clock was manufactured between 1941 and 1945. The ship was built in 1945.
“It’s a 24-hour military clock and it still works,” he said. “I couldn’t think of a better place for the clock than the school.”
Cherry praised the Kenneth D. Bailey Association for its generous support of the academy. Last school year, the association donated $10,000 that the school uses to award a $1,000 scholarship to one of its students each year. In May, association member Carl Siegel donated an oil painting of the USS Kenneth D. Bailey to display at the school.
“We chose the name, Kenneth D. Bailey, because of what he exemplified,” Cherry said. “We try to have our students aspire to great things.”