USS Willard Keith annual ship reunion held05/29/2013
NS Mayport according to the Mirror
USS Willard Keith annual ship reunion held
Friday night was the annual ship reunion for the USS Willard Keith according to the Mirror. The reunion for the World War II Destroyer escort was held at the Crowne Plaza in downtown Jacksonville. Retired Captain Jay O’Connell, former executive of DD 775 noted, “We were honored to have a fellow Destroyerman currently serving come speak to us.” Afloat Training Group Mayport’s new commanding officer, Commander Adam Aycock gave the keynote speech and noted, “Technology enables the Navy to accomplish its missions with fewer ships and Sailors. Unmanned helicopters now fly off the decks of frigates and engineering plants can be run by computers. But the Navy’s strength will always rely on the fighting spirit of those on the deckplates…All Sailors recall the heroes of our past and wear the uniform with pride. Aycock’s speech pointed out that the Navy is every changing and adapting with new technology while still remembering to honor its past.
Gunner’s Mate 1st Class Amy Hamilton, ATG’s Sailor of the Year, and Chief Logistics Specialist Goerdane Deleon represented the Mayport basin and ATG. Many Sailors who served aboard the Willard Keith from 1942 to 1972 were in attendance. The Willard Keith’s board of directors shared the accomplishments and history of the ship with the sailors. Deleon noted, “Attending USS Willard Keith reunion this past Friday was an awesome experience and an eye opener. It was an honor for me to meet some of the heroes from our earlier Navy, who have set the path for what we are today. The ceremony was heart touching, especially the recognition of fallen heroes. I now have a different view of what camaraderie really is. Seeing prior Sailors from different parts of the country come together to keep history alive is just humbling to me. I’m glad I was offered the opportunity to spend some time with such an elite group of citizens; would be glad to do it again.”