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Navy ship named for Alan Shepard Jr

Permission grant by The Eagle Tribune N. Andover.Ma to use this article.

Published: 12/06/2006

Navy ship named for Alan Shepard Jr.

By Shelley J. Thompson
Staff writer

A new Navy ship will be christened today in the name of astronaut Alan 
Shepard Jr., the first American in space and one of Derry's famous sons.

Former New Hampshire Gov. John H. Sununu is slated to give the principal 
address at the ceremony this morning in California. The ship, the USNS 
Alan Shepard, will launch from the General Dynamics National Steel and 
Ship Building Co. in San Diego.

"I think he'd be damned proud," Derry historian Richard Holmes said 
yesterday. "He was always proud of being a Naval officer."

Shepard, who died in 1998 from leukemia, served in the Navy for about 30 
years until 1974, when he retired from the Navy and NASA. He was one of 
the Mercury astronauts named by NASA in 1959 and was the first American 
in space in 1961. He is one of a dozen Americans to walk on the moon.

Holmes said Derry residents would be proud to know the Navy chose to 
honor Shepard.

"We're all very excited about it," said Pinkerton Academy trustee Marion 
Pounder, Shepard's classmate in the Class of 1940.

She said Shepard always gave the academy credit for a good background, 
not only in the classroom, but in his other activities at the school.

"Shep," as he was known, was active in drama and athletics at Pinkerton. 
According to an issue of the alumni magazine published after he died, 
Shepard knew early in life that the Navy was in his future. "Aye, Aye, 
Sir," was the saying published with his yearbook photo

Pinkerton Academy Headmaster Mary Anderson said the academy is "thrilled 
that the U.S. Navy has chosen to honor one of our own. May the USS Alan 
Shepard sail proudly and safely."

The Alan Shepard, a 689-foot ship with a top speed of 20 knots, is a 
combat support ship that will deliver supplies to Navy ships, transfer 
cargo and provide logistical support, according to Sen. John E. Sununu, 
R-N.H., who announced the christening and launch in a statement this week.

"New Hampshire can be proud of the role the USNS Alan Shepard will play 
in providing for our Navy's readiness well into the 21st century," 
Sununu said in the statement.

Name game

Across the country are schools and buildings in Alan Shepard Jr.'s name. 
Some of them are:

r* *Alan B. Shepard Jr. Post Office, Derry

r* *Alan B. Shepard Highway, Interstate 93 in New Hampshire

r* *Alan B. Shepard Elementary School in Bourbonnais, Ill.

r* *Alan Shepard Elementary School in Long Grove, Iowa

r* *Alan B. Shepard Middle School in San Antonio, Texas

r* *Alan B. Shepard High School in Palos Heights, Ill.

r* *Alan Shepard Technology in Education Award given by the Astronauts 
Memorial Fund at the Kennedy Space Center

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