How a WWII warship shell casing is benefiting local veterans

The brass shell from a WWII Navy cruiser’s 5” gun, engraved for a local veterans group

The brass shell from a WWII Navy cruiser’s 5” gun, engraved for a local veterans group

The leader of a local veterans group recently walked into our shop. He had a bullet casing five inches in diameter, and an idea to create a lasting trophy for their annual golf outing. Our response? Mission accepted.

The Great Lakes Bay Veterans Coalition exists to bring awareness and appreciation to veterans throughout the Great Lakes Bay Region. They do this by making connections between veterans and the business community, advocating for programs that positively impact veterans, spending time in classrooms teaching flag etiquette and what it means to be patriotic, and caring for veterans and/or active duty military and their families in times of crisis. It’s a big job, and obviously we were thrilled at the chance to support them in some small way.

Brad Blanchard, who serves as director of the Great Lakes Bay Veterans Coalition, served in the Navy from 1985 to 1993. The WWII-era shell was donated to him, and he believes it came off of a round fired from the USS Iowa, a ship that utilized both 5” and 16” guns during the war effort. Apparently, it wasn’t uncommon for sailors to recycle the brass casings.

“Shell casings have been used for many things,” says Blanchard. “Every ship had a welding/fabrication shop and the casings were usually taken there to be cut or fabricated into different items - one big request was a small bank for a child to hold coins and money.”

Blanchard decided to utilize his casing as a trophy for his veteran group’s annual golf outing, which raises money to support their efforts.

The shell is polished, with the inaugural champions names added

The shell is polished, with the inaugural champions names added

Laser-engraving rounded objects isn’t an easy task, much less on objects with such sentimental value. We carefully measured the required engraving and got to work, ending up with a finished product that the winning golf foursome can be proud to display… at least until they’re unseated as champions.

For more information on the Great Lakes Bay Veterans Coalition and/or how to participate in their annual golf outing, contact Brad Blanchard at bpblanchard@yahoo.com, or visit the golf outing event page on Facebook.