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Ship named for fallen Marine ready to set sail USS Jason Dunham

November 14th, 2010

Filed under: USS Jason Dunham DDG-109 — admin @ 1:50 am

BY LAURA FIGUEROA
lfigueroa@MiamiHerald.com
Deb Dunham lost a son, but along the way she gained a second family — 300 men and women who carry on her son’s legacy.

“Rest assured when you sail, you sail with a guardian angel,” she told the crew of the USS Jason Dunham, a 9,000-ton warship that bears her Marine corporal son’s name.

Dunham died in Iraq six years ago at age 22 when he threw his body and helmet over an Iraqi insurgent’s hand grenade.

So Saturday, some 5,000 spectators gathered at Port Everglades and paid homage to that sacrifice as the U.S. Navy commissioned its newest battleship in Dunham’s name. They included Dunham’s mom and dad, from upstate New York, and a who’s who list of military and political dignitaries for what amounted to the ship’s coming-out party.

“Man this ship and bring her to life,” Dunham shouted from the deck, following a time-honored tradition that signaled the destroyer was ready to sail to war.

The spectators cheered.

The ceremony recounted the fallen marine’s valor, tales that moved silver-haired veterans and decorated officers in the crowd to tears.

“It’s hard to find real heroes these days,” said Vietnam veteran Richard Homan, now active with the Pembroke Pines American Legion.

“It really is an honor to be here. I can’t explain it,” he said.

And the host committee decked out the 510-foot-long ship for the occasion: With red, white and blue banners and flags.

The Parris Island Marine Band belted out patriotic tunes. Kids waved American flags. And the commandant of the Marine Corps paid homage to Dunham, the first U.S. Marine to win the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War.

“It was his selflessness that made him always want to help out the little guy, the underdog,” said the commandant, Marine Corps Gen. James F. Amos.

“This is what endeared him to his men. They know that Corporal Dunham cared about their welfare,” he said.

It was in that spirit that the Dunham sailed into South Florida on Nov. 5 from the iron works where it was built for $1.1 billion in Bath, Maine.

Members of its 300-plus crew fanned out across South Florida during the ship’s weeklong stay, visiting schools and hospitals, packing food for the homeless at a Pembroke Pines warehouse and hammering in a Habitat for Humanity project at Boynton Beach.

“Thanks to Jason so many bonds of love and friendship have been formed,” said Cmdr. Scott Sciretta, the ship’s skipper.

“Need any more proof of that? Look at all those buses still trucking in here.”

It was more than halfway through the hour-long ceremony, and spectators were still spilling off charter buses to get a glimpse of the Cruise missile destroyer. It’s equipped with twin Sea Hawk helicopters, torpedoes and the lastest in sonar and radar technology.

“It’s a very big addition in helping defend our country against terrorism,” said retired Air Force Col. Buddy Harris, who came from Boca Raton to witness the ceremony.

Harris was on hand in 1996 when the USS Cole was commissioned in Fort Lauderdale — the Navy warship that al Qaeda would four years later blow up, killing 17 sailors at a port in Aden, Yemen.

Had Dunham lived, Nov. 10 would’ve been his 28th birthday — a date that several speakers noted had great symbolism for this week’s commissioning ceremony. Nov. 10 is also the U.S. Marine Corps birthday.

But Amos, the Marine Corps commandant, chose to draw parallels to another date: April 14.

That’s the day in 2004 when Dunham died in the grenade explosion. But in 1865, he said, that was also the day an assassin took the life of President Abraham Lincoln.

“It is fitting then,” the general told the crowd, “that it was Lincoln who said `In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.’ ”

BY LAURA FIGUEROA
lfigueroa@MiamiHerald.com

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Shipping out on the USS Jason Dunham

November 10th, 2010

Filed under: USS Jason Dunham DDG-109 — admin @ 5:14 am

By Kathryn Ross
Daily Reporter
Posted Nov 09, 2010 @ 02:30 PM

Flags fly above the USS Jason Dunham

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109) backed into to dock at Port Everglades, Fla. on Friday. In another four days, it will be commissioned into the Navy.

The USS Jason Dunham cuts its way through the Atlantic Ocean.

The ship set sail Oct. 6 from Bath, Maine, with a brief stop in Norfolk, Va., which will be its home port, before it landed in Mayport Beach, Fla. near Jacksonville, Fla., There, it picked up 20 civilian and retired military passengers on Thursday. The passengers stayed aboard for the overnight cruise to Port Everglades.

During the overnight voyage, the ship, and its crew were put through a series of maneuvers. The passengers saw the versatility of the ship, which is 510 feet long and propelled by four marine gas turbine engines and three Rolls Royce 3000-kilowatt gas turbine generators.
The engines and turbines are kept in working order by the chief engineer, Lt. Amelon Aemon, 31, a graduate of the Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md.
“Now that they have opened up subs, there is no job in the Navy that a woman cannot do,” said Aemon. She recalled there were two other women studying engineering in her class at Annapolis.
The Dunham was escorted out of Mayport by a pod of dolphins, said to be a good omen to seasoned sailors. Throughout the afternoon, the crew tested armaments and systems aboard the ship, which is not totally equipped now. For example, only the navigation systems have Internet capability. As the ship cruised into the night, the crew revved up the ship’s engines to see how fast she could go.
The Dunham plowed through the waves at 37 knots. After reaching a top speed of almost 50 mph, Commanding Officer M. S. Sciretta ordered a full stop. The Dunham settled into the water only to be slammed into reverse, once again reaching maximum speed. After drenching crew and passengers with warm seawater, the ship started forward again, taking a series of tight turns and circles.
Asked the reason for the maneuvers, Sciretta said, “We’re a combat ship. We’d use these kinds of maneuvers to avoid a torpedo or in chasing down another ship.”
Friday morning, the ship was greeted in Port Everglades to the tune of “Anchors Aweigh” and the “Marine Corps Hymn.”?With crew standing at the rails in dress whites, it backed down a nearly mile-long, weaving channel into its berth at Port Everglades.
“The USS Jason Dunham is a warship and we want to be able to get underway quickly if were called upon,”?Sciretta said.
The crew said it is proud of the new ship and its namesake. The crew’s mess, nicknamed “Jason’s Dugout,” is decorated with the Scio Central School athlete’s basketball and baseball jerseys, his bat and glove, sports statistics and news articles. It’s also decorated with New York Yankee memorabilia.

Copyright 2010 Wellsville Daily Reporter. Some rights reserved

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USS Jason Dunham Video of Arrival at Ft. Lauderdale

November 6th, 2010

Filed under: News,USS Jason Dunham DDG-109 — admin @ 3:59 am

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The future USS New York LPD-21 under construction at Northrop Grumman Ship Systems’ shipyard in Avondale, LA, will be the fifth amphibious transport dock of the San Antonio class. The ship was named New York after the state and incorporates in its construction steel salvaged from the World Trade Centers. Her ship motto is "Never Forget." "We're very proud that the twisted steel from the WTC towers will soon be used to forge an even stronger national defense," New York Gov. George Pataki spoke in 2002. "The USS New York will soon be defending freedom and combating terrorism around the globe, while also ensuring that the world never forgets the evil attacks of Sept. 11 and the courage and strength New Yorkers showed.” This will be the seventh U.S. ship named New York.

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