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Rumsfeld Visits U.S. Navy Destroyer in Singapore

By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 4, 2006 – On the 64th anniversary of the Battle of Midway, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld today met with sailors in another South Pacific port and lauded them for recent service in the Persian Gulf.

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Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld re-enlists four sailors on the bridge of the USS McCampbell during a visit to the ship while on a port visit to Singapore, June 4. Rumsfeld was in Singapore to attend thefifth annual Asia Security Summit arranged by the International Institute for Strategic Studies. Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley, USN

(Click photo for screen-resolution image)

Rumsfeld was in Singapore for a meeting of defense ministers from Asian and Pacific countries. The USS McCampbell was in Singapore for a liberty call. Four other Navy ships and a Coast Guard cutter were also in port here as part of Exercise CARAT, for Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training. Sailors from each of the other ships and several Coast Guardsmen were aboard the McCampbell on this sweltering hot day to hear Rumsfeld speak.

"I just wanted to be able to say thank you so much to each of you for your service to the country, for making an important decision to volunteer to defend our country," Rumsfeld told sailors in formation on the ship's missile deck.

The McCampbell, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, is en route to its homeport in San Diego after five months on station in the Gulf. The ship performed a variety of missions, including protecting Iraqi oil platforms in the northern Arabian Gulf, maritime security and theater security cooperation operations, and presence patrols throughout the Persian Gulf. Part of the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group, the McCampbell was docked at Changi Naval Base here.

Navy Lt. George Loranger, one of four junior officers Rumsfeld promoted to lieutenant on the ship's bridge wing, said the ship routinely came into contact with fisherman and merchant seamen. The McCampbell's crew often boarded these ships and offered any assistance that might be needed. "A lot of good will was done, letting them know that we're there to support them," Loranger, a helicopter pilot, said.

In addition to promoting the four lieutenants, Rumsfeld presided over the re-enlistments of five sailors and congratulated 34 sailors "frocked" as petty officers. The Navy often allows sailors selected for promotion to wear their new rank as soon as they are selected, but before the effective date of the actual promotion.

Petty Officer 2nd Class James Henry Traylor, a gunner's mate aboard the McCampbell, said it was "awesome" to have Rumsfeld preside over his re-enlistment. He said he was thrilled when he found out two weeks earlier that Rumsfeld would be on the ship and that he re-enlisted because he loves his life in the Navy. "I get to shoot, I maintain (the vertical launching system), and I love my job," he said. "I love the Navy."

Rumsfeld also presented the McCampbell's crew with deployment medals, including the Iraqi Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, and the sea service deployment ribbon.

The secretary, a former naval aviator, told the sailors of the first time he visited a ship, in the early 1940s, and how his father became a naval officer and served in the Pacific during World War II.

"I've been aboard ships a lot since 1942 or '43," Rumsfeld said. "It's a different life; it's a special life; it's a way of life. And I know that each of you who've experienced it understand how special it is.

"And I'm here to look you in the eye and thank you for your service to the country," he added.

Rumsfeld also told the sailors they are in an important part of the world. "The importance of peace and stability and prosperity for the people of this region is something that you contribute to," he said. "And we appreciate it."

The USS McCampbell is named after David S. McCampbell, a Medal of Honor recipient and the most decorated fighter pilot in World War II. Known as the "ace of aces," McCampbell retired as a captain and died in 1996, at 89.

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageDefense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld visits with USS McCampbell officers after presiding over their promotion ceremony to lieutenant on the wing bridge of the ship, June 4. Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley, USN  
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