Hats off for the arrival of USS Delaware

DOVER — Some notes and quotes in between headlines and deadlines

***

News of the USS Delaware may have slipped under the radar of most Delawareans.

The nuclear submarine bearing our state’s name is now in the hands of the U.S. Navy.

At Monday’s Veterans Day ceremony at the Kent County Veterans Memorial Park, U.S. Sen. Tom Carper shared a few updates on actions taken in Norfolk, Virginia.

Commissioning of the boat will be held April 4 at the Port of Wilmington, he said.

Sen. Carper donned a blue and gold USS Delaware hat at Monday’s ceremony. He said four days earlier he had been in Norfolk for a change of command ceremony.

Sen. Thomas Carper gave an update on the USS Delaware at Monday’s Veterans Day ceremony in Dover. (Delaware State News/Andrew West)

“It was 40 degrees with gale force winds,” said Sen. Carper.

Capt. Brian P. Hogan, who has visited Dover for NASCAR and other opportunities to meet the people of the First State, relinquished command to Cmdr. Matthew Horton.

“Halfway through (Capt. Hogan’s) remarks, gale force winds blew his hat off,” said Sen. Carper. “It was like a Frisbee going across the water, skipping as it went. It was one of the funniest change of commands we’ve ever had.”

Capt. Hogan was the boat’s first captain, serving while it was under construction in Newport News.

“This change of command marks a unique occasion as the first generation ever aboard Delaware begins transitioning to the second generation,” Capt. Hogan said at the ceremony. “I have been so proud of the work this crew has achieved, and stand in awe thinking about Delaware starting out on blocks, and what we have here today.”

The USS Delaware (SSN 791) is the eighth and final Virginia class block III submarine, known for its speed, stealth and capability of launching six Tomahawk cruise missiles.

Robert E. Clark II, president of Wesley College, is also excited about the upcoming event as an honorary commissioning committee member. He was sporting a USS Delaware lapel pin at the “Excellence in Education” event Wednesday evening in Dover.

Ret. Capt. Clark had a 32-year career and held high-ranking posts in the submarine force. He was commanding officer of the USS Connecticut, another in the Virginia class.

Construction of the 377-foot-long, 7,800-ton USS Delaware began construction in 2013.

Last October, freelance photographer Gary Emeigh witnessed the christening and shared some amazing images with the Delaware State News.

***

Paul Davis, president of the Delaware Council of the Vietnam Veterans of America, was the keynote speaker Monday at the Veterans Day ceremony in Dover.

He chronicled the history of the Kent County Veterans Memorial Park, starting with the vision and ideas of Joe Startt, Mike Snyder and Victor Smith to raise funds for a Vietnam War monument.

Prior to Mr. Davis’ speech, Mr. Startt, president of VVA Kent County Chapter 850, spoke about the 10th anniversary of the monument’s dedication. The names of 28 Kent County servicemen are listed on it.

Paul Davis reflected on the 10th anniversary of the memorial park.

“I want to thank everybody here from the bottom of my heart,” said Mr. Startt. “Ten years ago, my wife and I stepped out here in this little patch of grass. I said to her, ‘Wouldn’t it be something if we could get a memorial here for all the people that sacrificed their life for us?’”

Mr. Davis, who served in U.S. Army signal battalions in Vietnam, was instrumental in raising funds for the memorial and park, and especially driven to bring a Huey “Dustoff” helicopter there for permanent display in 2014. His reputation for working through bureaucracy to obtain the Huey earned him the nickname “Mongoose.”

Early on, Mr. Davis said the veterans wanted it to be a special place.

“We wanted something that was going to have a good surrounding so we could pay our respects and our love for these people that gave their lives,” said Mr. Davis. “There were 29 in Kent County. We wanted this so their families could come out here, just sit down and think.”

Joe Startt thanked those gathered for the Veterans Day ceremony for their support for the Vietnam War monument and Kent County Veterans Memorial Park in Dover.

About 1,500 people attended the dedication in 2009, but it was moved indoors because of pouring rain. The memorable moment was a fly-in of a Huey, arranged by the Delaware National Guard. Mr. Davis said the rain wasn’t going to deter that moment.

“Those of you who were in Vietnam, you know we don’t give a damn about the rain,” Mr. Davis said. “We know what a monsoon means.”

He implored a pilot come anyway. “It wasn’t long guys … wop, wop, wop, wop, wop, wop, wop, wop … he landed right out here.”

In addition to the Vietnam monument, members have added memorials for Gold Star Families, servicemen who died in Korea and the Middle East, war dogs and Chair of Honor.

***

Kent County Chapter 850 of the Vietnam Veterans of America had a nice surprise for a Garnet Valley, Pennsylvania, family at the Kent County Veterans Memorial Park on Monday.

Sophia Smith and her daughters, Morayo Adeyemi, 6, and Kemi Adeyemi, 8, led the large Veterans Day gathering in the pledge of allegiance. And, then, emcee Dave Skocik directed them to a reserved space at the entrance.

Morayo Adeyemi, 6, left, and Kemi Adeyemi, 8, of Garnet Valley, Pennsylvania, recite the pledge of allegiance Monday at the Kent County Veterans Memorial Park in Dover.

There, Chapter 850 member Ken Bodine presented the girls with the park’s commemorative 10th anniversary coins and unveiled a brick in their honor. Mr. Bodine and Woody Postle, chapter members, designed the coin.

Earlier this year, Ms. Smith had left a touching note on the back of an order form for the fundraising bricks. She and the girls had arrived at the park, by chance, while passing through Dover and looking for a place to eat a picnic lunch.

The note read, “I was moved to tears as I, with my three children, stood and read each sign. I was educated and in awe as I reflected on the honor and bravery of those who served …. Thank you for maintaining this park and for the great sacrifices made by all vets and their families. God bless you always.”

Reach Executive Editor Andrew West at awest@newszap.com

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.

Facebook Comment