My daughter and I arrived in San Diego at the General Dynamics NASSCO Shipyard at about 5:50 a.m. Saturday morning to witnesses the Christening and Launch of the USNS Charles Drew (T-AKE 10), "a new dry cargo / ammunition ship for the United States Navy."
We left Pasadena and Claremont in the cold and rainy morning at about 3:50 a.m. By the time we arrived in San Diego the rain had stopped and the morning was beginning to come alive.
We followed the long line of people including members of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc who were invited to attend this magnificent event. Dr. Charles Richard Drew, for whom theship is named, was a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. Dr. Drew was a noted surgeon and hematologist. Before his untimely death April 1, 1950 in an automobile accident in route to a conference of African American physicians at Tuskegee University (Institute), he had gained eminence for his research that led to the establishment of the first blood bank for the American Red Cross.
Because of Dr. Drew's work which was about finding a way to preserve and store blood over a long period of time, many lives have been saved in the military and in civilian life throughout the world.
As we navigated our way through the twist and turns of the rain soaked shipyard, we soon joined with others and proceeded to the site of the Ceremony. We approached the staging area and there it stood, glistening and gleaming in all its glory – the USNS Charles Drew (T-AKE 10).
It mission, as spelled out in the ceremonial program, is: "To deliver ammunition, provisions, stores, spare parts, potable water and petroleum products to strike groups and other naval forces, by serving as a shuttle ship or station ship." In attendance for the historic event were his three daughters, Bebe Drew Price, Dr. Charlene Drew Jarvis, Ph.D., and Sylvia Drew Ivie, J.D. The principal speaker for the ceremony was Vice Admiral Regina M. Benjamin, USPHS, M.D. Surgeon General of the United States.
Other distinguished participants and guests included Mr. Frederick J. Harris, President, General Dynamics NASSCO; Rear Admiral Mark H. Buzby, USN, Commander, Military Sealift Command; Mr. Carl Blunt, 1st Vice Grand Basileus, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity; members of the Fraternity from throughout the western region.