"ALOHA… The Davidson gets a Lei"
by Russell Crosby BT3
The tradition of the Hawaiian Lei greeting was never more alive than in 1967 when the officer’s and enlisted men’s wives made a beautiful yellow paper lei to welcome the DAVIDSON back from her first Westpac cruise.
Impressed with the beauty and size of the lei and how cool it looked on the bow of the ship I always include it among anything relating the DAVIDSON history to this day. It was my first time to see something like this and it was neat that DAVIDSON’s lei was larger than the leis of other ships who were returning with us. Just another of many defining moments in DAVIDSON history, this time accomplished by the wives of the officers and crew.
The tradition of leis extends back to early Polynesia when Polynesians navigated the Pacific Ocean in their canoes in search of a new life. It is symbolic of “ALOHA”, of celebration, and especially love from one to another. Leis are historically associated with the goddess Hiiaka, one of Pele’s sisters. Hiiaka was the goddess of protection and mercy and often wore leis. Each island has a special flower designated for it and Oahu’s is the ilima, a yellow flower similar to the feathers of an o’o bird.
As you can see, DAVIDSON’s successful career as a ship of the U.S. Navy can be attributed not only to the officers and men who manned her but also to the loving wives who maintained the home front and kept the family intact. Wives have an important part in DAVIDSON history and each of our lives as well. This lei is only one of many beautiful examples of their love and support for their special sailor then and now.
Lastly it was almost like divine intervention at the last reunion in Branson 35 years later. I always wanted to have the opportunity to compliment and thank at least one wife who participated in the making of the DAVIDSON lei. Towards the last day of the reunion Lt.R.H. Bern,( the operations officer of the DAVIDSON upon her return from the 1967 Westpac )arrived along with his lovely wife Betty, having just heard about the reunion at the last moment. They happened to bring along some memorabilia of the DAVIDSON to the reunion and guess what it happened to be…..YES, the pictures of making of the yellow lei. In the pictures you will also find some other officer’s wives who participated such as Mrs. Mullen, Mrs. Kihune, Mrs. Ebel and Mrs. Seff. I hope you will enjoy the beauty of this piece of work as much as I did so many years ago. Thanks Mrs. Bern and all the rest of the wives for giving us this beautiful welcome home. As you can see, it was a labor of love that has endured in many a DAVIDSON sailor’s memory to this time.