Ardmore resident Scott Wallace will attend the christening of the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer of the United States Navy in the name of his great uncle, Master Chief Petty Officer Delbert D. Black, Saturday in Pascagoula, Mississippi.
Black, who was born and raised in Orr in Love County, enlisted in the U.S. Navy on March 14, 1941 one year after he graduated high school.
A self-proclaimed “Oklahoma farm boy,” according to the Oklahoma History Center, Black would serve 30 years aboard nine warships, including serving in Pearl Harbor on the day of the Japanese attack.
On Jan. 13, 1967, the Secretary of the Navy appointed Black as the first Senior Enlisted Advisor, later developing into his title of Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy.
Black was also the first Navy enlisted man to receive the Navy Distinguished
Service Medal, according to the Oklahoma History Center.
Wallace and family will attend a special christening ceremony in Pascagoula, coordinated by Ingalls Shipbuilding, the company that constructed the USS Delbert D. Black.
Wallace described Black as a “lifelong navy man,” one who acted as a liaison for the Navy, among several other responsibilities.
“It’s just a tremendous honor,” Wallace said. “He was born and raised just south of Ardmore from poor, humble beginnings. Just for a family kid from that area to do all he did is great.”
Ima J. Black, Delbert D. Black’s widow, will serve as the ship’s sponsor. Her role will be to bestow “good luck and divine protection” over the ship and its crew, according to Ingalls Shipbuilding.