at the Constitution

With the three masts and riggings reaching more than 150 feet above their heads and a rain slicked deck beneath their feet, a group of 14 veterans from Milton recently gathered on the venerable warship, the USS Constitution.

Even though the solemnity of war surrounded them, the group of veterans from World War II through the Vietnam era said it was a fun trip to Charlestown, where the ship is docked.

For Milton Veterans Agent Kevin Cook, who is also a veteran, it was a little bit of a reunion.

Cook, who arranged the trip in conjunction with the Council on Aging, was stationed on the ship for three years as a member of the 200th anniversary Under Sail Operation crew.

The tour began with the ship’s bell being run for each of the two officers in the group and a guide who was prepared to give them the full history of the ship fondly known as “Old Ironsides.”

“What you’re standing on today is the foundation of the U.S. Navy,” said Joshua Lyons, a 2nd Class Petty Officer, as he stood on the deck of the 221-year-old battleship.

The ship’s nickname came from the way cannonballs were seen to bounce off its triple-layer wooden shell.

The oldest commissioned warship still afloat, the ship has 55 guns, including a cannonade designed to shoot 32-pound cannonballs, and takes six to nine people to operate what Lyons was standing beside.

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