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By CAROL COMEGNO
After this week, Patrick McBride will never be able to forget the number 62.
McBride, 33, was the painter selected to put the finishing touch on the bow of the battleship New Jersey by repainting the ship's number - 62 - with coats of black and white. His work made the number more prominent on the freshly painted hull of pale gray.
The paint work is part of a $7 million sprucing up of the historic World War II vintage warship - the most decorated battleship in Navy history. The ship is being readied for its opening as a memorial and museum on the downtown Camden Waterfront sometime next month.
"I asked to paint the numbers because I consider it an honor," said McBride, a master painter who is the ship's new maintenance painter.
McBride made rejuvenating the worn, 8-foot numbers look easy as he carefully brushed on perfectly straight edges. The bow has the same number on both the port and starboard side of the ship.
"I don't know how to do many things, but one thing I can do is paint," he said.
He said when he recently took the job with the Home Port Alliance, the nonprofit group in charge of the ship museum, he thought it would be just another job.
"But something happens to you when you go aboard this ship. I can't explain it. The history ... it gets to you. She was the queen of the Navy and you just feel proud," McBride said.
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