And Now You Know: Levingston’s “E” Award

Published 10:25 am Monday, August 20, 2018

By Mike Louviere

In August 1942, Levingston Shipyard was awarded the Army-Navy Award for Excellence. Levingston had been building small harbor tugs and large ocean-going rescue tugs for both the United States Navy and the Royal Navy for nearly two years. At the time they received the coveted award they were the only industrial plant involved in war production in Texas to receive the award.

The Navy had established the award in 1906 to recognize the excellence of gunnery crews. It was later expanded to include outstanding performance in communications and engineering. By 1942, the individual awards from the Army and Navy had been combined into one award.

Any industry involved in production of any material for the war effort was eligible to be recognized. Nominations could come from the Army, Army Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, or the Coast Guard. The award would have either the blue background for naval production or a red background for army production. The pennant was nine feet long and four feet, six inches wide. In the center of the award was a large was a large wreath, 23 inches in diameter, of silver oak and laurel leaves with a large “E” of gold in the center of the wreath.

In addition to the pennant, each of the 1,100 employees of the shipyard would be awarded a personal pin. The pin was in similar shape to the pennant. It was 1 3/16 inches long and 19/32 of an inch wide. The pin had a large golden “E’ surrounded by silver oak and laurel leaves in a wreath. There were five horizontal borders on the pin. The colors alternated, red, white, blue, white, and red.

Levingston was one of 35 industrial plants in the United States awarded the pennant at this time and was the only one in Texas to meet all the criteria.

Any plant of any size could be considered for the award. They could have been peacetime plants converted to wartime production or could be new plants built specifically for wartime production. Manpower could range from one man to a large corporation.

The criteria to be met was excellence in quality and quantity of production, low rate of absenteeism, fair labor standards, avoidance of work stoppages, training of additional labor forces, safety and health programs, cooperation between labor and management, and conservation of critical and strategic materials.

Once the pennant was awarded, and as long as the standards were upheld, stars could be added to the pennant for each six months of continued excellence.

Out of 4,283 war production facilities only 5-percent earned the award. Only 776 of these plants would be awarded three stars. Levingston was one of the plants to be awarded three stars.

Levingston had completed 41 vessels in the calendar year 1942. In the later years Levingston added several different types of auxiliary vessels to their production efforts.

Regarding the Award for Excellence, the War Department issued the following statement: “An honor not easily won, nor lightly bestowed, it became and has remained a matter of deep pride to the men of the service who receive it.”

“And now you know”