The Last Jack

The Last Flown at Sea by USS Shields DD-596

Our Honorary Shipmate

My daughter, Veronica, recently visited us in San Diego. She is married to a Marine officer currently assigned as an instructor at the Joint Advanced Warfighting School in Norfolk.

She spotted the Jack of the United States that I had hanging in my office. I acquired it while serving as a participant in a flag retirement detail of our VFW Post in Poway, California. As we were preparing to respectfully “retire” dozens of old flags via the traditional means by fire, I encountered the Jack among the many flags presented for retirement. The flag was not in bad condition. I noticed a note attached to the flag. The hand written note said that the flag was “the last ensign flown at sea on the USS Shields, DD596.” I decided that “retirement” of such a precious relic was not appropriate at that time, so I commandeered the sacred item and hung it in my office at home!

It is at the suggestion of my daughter that I am proudly passing this flag to you and persons to whom it has great sentimental value. I served with the 3rd Marine Division in Vietnam in 1966. I fully understand the sacredness of such an item. I will, hereby, gladly and respectfully entrust its care, custody and transportation to my oldest grandson who will be driving from San Diego to Quantico to begin his training at The Basic School there in a few day. He will pass our Jack to our daughter and her husband, who will ensure that you receive it.

I pray, with deepest sincerity, that you and all associated with the officers and men who served on the Shields, remain in good health and spirits and will preserve and enjoy this piece of her history that some unknown but thoughtful individual, years ago, had the fidelity to preserve.

God Speed and Semper Fidelis,
Ed Gallego
San Diego

The Last Jack

This is the actual US Navy Jack that was last flown on USS Shields…a rare and heartfelt memory of a great ship manned by a great crew.

The US Navy Jack

The Jack became the standard “Navy Jack” on June 14, 1777, and except for a symbolic 14-month period during the 1976 U.S. Bicentennial celebrations, it was in constant U.S. Navy service. The only change was a gradual expansion of the numbers of white stars on the banner as more states joined the union.

The Jack is flown from the jackstaff at the front of the ship when in port and for special occasions.