Rear Admiral Andrew J. Hill, the “Nick’s” second commanding officer, was one person present at both her first commissioning and her last decommissioning. There he retrieved the ship’s data plate and other memorabilia, some of which were given out as door prizes at the 1973 shipmates’ reunion at Marina del Rey, California.
The data plate came into the possession of reunion coordinator John O’Neill, who loaned it back to the navy for installation in a new USS Nicholas (FFG 47) while the bell was donated to the Marine Corps, as Nicholas was named after the Continental Marines’ senior officer, by tradition the Corps’ first commandant.
The Nick’s ship’s bell commenced a career of its own. After Admiral Hill arranged for it to be consigned to the Marine Corps, it was transported to Marine Barracks Washington, Home of the Commandants. There it was mounted on the parade deck where it was struck daily at eight bells and during summertime parades attended by tens of thousands of spectators attracted by the Marines’ music, military precision and patriotism.
In 1997, the bell developed a hairline crack and was replaced on the parade ground by another bell. For the next eleven years, it hung from a wooden frame outside Center House, the bachelor officers’ quarters and officers club for Marine and Navy personnel stationed at the barracks. Reconditioned for permanent display in 2008, it was remounted inside the entrance to Center House where, on 7 August, the barracks hosted a ceremony for shipmates, family members and friends to attach a decorative bellrope and dedicate a descriptive plaque.