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Curriculum Honors Veterans

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The following article was excerpted from the Wilkes County, NC, Record and was first published on Wednesday, November 10th, 2004.

History Curriculum Honors Local Veterans

In April of 1945 Clarence and Sally Triplett of North Wilkesboro became one of only a few sets of parents to proudly watch as five of their six sons went off to serve their country at the same time.

Saying goodbye to one child going to war would be a struggle, yet Sally and Clarence stood strong as they sent five boys to a conflict waging across the world.

They were:

Sgt. Archie R. Triplett, U.S. Army.

Cpl. Claude H. Triplett, U.S. Army.

Private First Class Stephen E. Triplett, U.S. Army.

Thomas Nolan Triplett, F2c, U.S. Navy.

Clarence Robert Triplett, Seaman 2nd Class, U.S. Navy.

Each brother served in different parts of the world.

While their perspectives of WWII were varied as they lived through the conflict individually, they shared one common bond — a strong, proud family back in North Wilkesboro.

When the brothers safely returned home from the military, they never forgot the values taught to them by their family — including patriotism to their country. They passed on these teachings and stressed the importance of service to God, family and country.

As the son of Nolan and Grace Triplett, Joseph Charles Triplett decided to proudly follow in his father's footsteps and joined the U.S. Navy in 1960. He and his wife moved to Long Beach California where he was stationed aboard the USS Oklahoma City. His love of his ship and the shipmates he considered as his naval family were evident in his daily work in the engine room and as a fireman trained to battle the deadliest threat to a sailor — fire aboard ship.

Although the ship did not see combat during Joe's time on board, she was ever at the ready for whatever occurred during the Bay of Pigs and later became a strong gunfire support and evacuated troops and refugees during the Vietnam War.

During Joe's time on the USS Oklahoma City, the craft was the Flagship for Commander, 7th Fleet, which carried great honors, duties and prestige. She was also awarded several high ratings of gunnery and precision fire power and was the first to successfully fire a TALOS guided missile.

The ship’ naval history started during WWII when commissioned Dec. 22, and arrived May 2, 1945 at Pearl Harbor.

Joe's daughter, Rebecca Triplett-Johnson, of Hays, never got to know her father, due to his untimely death by the hands of a drunk driver three months before her birth. She has always strived to know her father through those who knew and loved him. One of her biggest goals has been to follow her father's love for the navy and to create a memorial on board the USS Oklahoma City as was done with the USS North Carolina.

The lack of funding and the final decision not to save the ship by the former Secretary of the Navy, did not deter Triplett-Johnson from continuing her efforts to create a memorial to honor all those who served aboard the ship and their families.

Through her workings with Gov. Frank Keating of Oklahoma and the U.S. Navy, Triplett-Johnson was able to create several memorial ceremonies and honors that were held aboard ship before it served its last duty.

Artifacts from these ceremonies are now housed in the Kirkpatrick Museum Center in Oklahoma City.

The USS Oklahoma City Association, made up of crewmen and their families and which Triplett-Johnson is a member, created a documentary about the history of the ship.

With this movie and other historic artifacts collected and chronicled by Triplett-Johnson, she has created a curriculum that has been added to the history departments at West Wilkes High School and Wilkes Community College.

"This program was done as a loving memorial to my father, and my grandfather and uncles,” Triplett-Johnson said. “My hope is that through their life experiences I have created a teaching tool that will bring many facets of history back to life and give it a very personal perspective.”

Presentations of the memorial program were made on Oct. 28, the birthday of Triplett-Johnson’s father.

Rebecca has been a part of this website for almost 10 years. The Tribute page dedicates the site to the memory of her dad and all our fellow shipmates who have passed on. You'll also find her touching tribute to the ship in the story archive under Final Tribute . -- Joe C.

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