Several University of Arkansas at Little Rock alumni will be in Buffalo, New York, this weekend to attend the historic commissioning ceremony for the USS Little Rock, the U.S. Navy’s new combat ship, on Saturday, Dec. 16.
The event marks the first time in U.S. Navy history that a new ship is commissioned alongside its namesake. The former USS Little Rock was in service from 1944 until it was decommissioned in 1976. It is now on display at the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park in Canalside.
Several UA Little Rock alumni serve on the USS Little Rock Namesake Committee, which has planned events to celebrate the commission. Members who are not going to New York will host a watch party with live streaming of the official commissioning at the Ron Robinson Theater in downtown Little Rock at 10 a.m., Saturday, December 16. Doors open at 9 a.m.
Former Little Rock Mayor Tom Prince, a 1979 UA Little Rock Bowen School of Law graduate, chairs the Namesake Committee and will be in New York to see the commissioning, along with Jason Irby, a 2003 M.A. in Radio and TV graduate. Irby designed the Arkansas Flag Wabbaseka Memorial commemorating the 100th year of Arkansas’ state flag.
“It’s an honor and a privilege,” Irby said, of the event.
Former Little Rock Mayor Sharon Priest will lead the local ceremony.
“We are hoping people will also simply come to the River Market District and be a part of the atmosphere and celebration while the historic event takes place,” Irby said.
Other members of the USS Little Rock Namesake Committee with UA Little Rock connections are:
Major (Ret) Keith Dover, a 2000 graduate of UA Little Rock’s professional and technical writing program, who serves as secretary of Arkansas Veterans Coalition. While he was at UA Little Rock, he was a founding member of the university’s veterans fraternity.
Scott Pursley, who received a Master of Education in 2016
Bryan Griffith, a graduate of the UA Little Rock Bowen School of Law
David Carnahan, a 2015 UA Little Rock graduate
There’s one more connection too. UA Little Rock Athletics contributed Trojan armbands for the goody bags that will be given to the ship’s crew.