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Department of Carpentry and Paperweights

The Plank-Owners' Page
of the Provisional Peoples'
Democratic Republic of Diego Garcia!

Huh?  Plank-owners?  What are they?
Well, its simple.  The USN doesn't give its hardworking swabs medals, so they give them fancy certificates and plaques to compensate.  If they were there when something was built and used for the first time, its called a "Plank Owner's Certificate" - just like back in the 1700s & 1800s when a new wooden ship was built - if you were there to build and float it, you could "claim" ownership of a plank in the ship!
That's the Navy for you - 225 years of tradition, unhindered by progress...
But to the men who received them, these have very special meaning, and, well, here are some certificates sent in by citizens of the PPDRDG... Remember, these are big deals, because when they got there, there was NOTHING but some shacks and palm trees and sand...

Here's one of the very first.  Larry Kupner's Certificate from March, 1971:

The Text Reads:  Know Ye All These Presents Come Greeting:
     WHEREAS on 9 March 1971 amid palm trees, coconuts, land and coconut crabs,
donkeys, sharks, dolphins, scorpions, and all other inhabited creatures of the island of
DIEGO GARCIA, CHAGOS ARCHIPELAGO, British Indian Ocean Territory and,
     WHEREAS at the aforementioned location did arrive the first of many
seabees, black-shoes, airdales, officers and others and, whereas the purpose of said
individual was the appropriate arrangement, removal, presentation of or otherwise
accommodation of PROJECT REINDEER STATION and,
     WHEREAS the first major milestone consistent with and as part of
these stated goals and objectives was accomplished 18 July 1971.
     TO WIT:  The completion of a U. S. Navy airfield, the first in the Indian Ocean.
Be it known that BUCN LARRY S. KUPNER, USN
having participated in said project is numbered as a plankholder,
     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that by virtue of the power vested in me I
do hereby command all to show due honor and respect to him wherever he may be.

October 2002 update!
From Fred Cook, <>
Sorry to have "disappeared" for a while, but things got busy! Just took a look at the early plankholder documents, and happened to remember that the first one (with the buxom mermaid) was designed and drawn by EA3 Norm Freeman (of the Russian rations story fame).  He was originally from the Newport News area in Virginia and was very talented in lots of ways (some of which can't be printed)! Just thought you would want to know "the rest of the story".
Fred Cook

Just getting to DG could be an experience, and again, in time honored tradition, sailors who crossed the equator, or over the international dateline, did something very, very few of their comfortable brothers back home would ever do.
  And so, there are fancy certificates for that too.

Here's Mike Bodi's "Golden Dragon" Certificate from 1973:

And sometimes the Navy gave out plaques.  Here's Tim OBrien's from ATCU-4 from 1972:

Now, From: "Bill Rigby" <>
   Hi; I have been watching your site for some time now and will eventually get around to posting a story. Not much from MCB1 is there? I am forwarding this photo of a plaque that was made on the island for all  MCB1 members who were on the fire dept. Only about 12 were made. This is a picture of mine. I drove the fire truck as well as "slaving away" in the Bravo Co. carpenter shops. I made the sign for the Britrep's hut (yes, there's a story to that one!)Will provide details when I post. Best regards and thank you for your major efforts on behalf of all who set foot on that island!
Bill Rigby (BU2 Wm. J. Rigby in the old days)
1972 Fire
        Department Plaque

Subject:         another lost soul from DG
Date:              Wed, 8 Jun 2005 21:22:48 EDT
     It's a family engagement for us.  My Granddad lead a construction battalion based in Tent City when the airfield was built.  I have some obscure and treasured memorablia.
     I was an airframer at AIMD in 1994-95.
     Even childhood pales to the sweet peace of DG.  I've been watching this site for years and finally have a real contribution.  My odd collection of friends that have created their own clan, with elaborate care and theatrical disregard historical accuracy.  The clan MacThoy claims to have explored/conquered/debauched most of the known world.  Reports keep trickling in of infamous exploits.  I created a series of territorial deeds for them, my contribution being the Lost Continent of Limeria.  The "heraldic device" displays the BIOT flag with squid clinging to a coconut tree grasping a jug of home-brew--it's still in it's rough stages of clip art reclaimation/cannibalization.  I send it to you to say thanks.  If the revolution warms up, I'm on the first flight out.
Dona Black AKA Kali Mari
you can find my kin at
we'd be honored


Special Update:
Beginning in October, 2001, the Air Force DID decide to start giving out certificates on DG. 
I guess there was less paperwork involved than writing a medal... at least they also gave you a flag to go along with it. 
They gave out a lot of these for ENDURING FREEDOM, and also for IRAQI FREEDOM.   Here's one from November 2001:

          presentation certificate

If you have a special certificate or plaque you'd like to share with the world, send it to me and I'll see if I can fit it in...

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