In an unusual ceremony at the Naval Academy in Annapolis Saturday, a plaque paid for by a former sailor will be dedicated to the memory of 30 shipmates killed aboard the heavy cruiser USS Saint Paul off the coast of Korea in 1952, an academy spokesman said.
The plaque, provided by Allen Starr of Midway Park, N.C., honors the men who died in a gun turret explosion while the ship was providing fire support to troops during the Korean War. Starr, who helped retrieve the bodies after the explosion, said he was moved to honor his friends because "these men were never honored in death, but now, 35 years later their voices are being heard."
The memorial is to be dedicated during the football game between Navy and William and Mary. It will be placed on permanent display at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, according to the academy spokesman and Capt. Channing Zucker, spokesman for the Saint Paul Association, which is sponsoring the dedication as part of a reunion this weekend.
Starr, who said he is now unemployed, said he raised the $1,080 for the bronze plaque by working in a temporary job at a Camp Lejeune mess hall.
He has made a personal crusade of establishing memorials to servicemen killed in action. During the last four years he has headed efforts for monuments in Arkansas, West Virginia, North Carolina and Rhode Island dedicated to the Marines killed in the bombing of their barracks in Beirut in October 1983. He estimates that he has spent $6,000 of his own money on the projects and raised $2,000 on a bike ride from Arkansas to Camp Lejeune, on the North Carolina shore near Jacksonville.