Technician 1st Class Michael Gray and his five-year-old son
reunite at Key West’s homecoming.
Photo by JOC David
onboard Key West secure the submarine’s mooring
Photo by PHAN Benjamin
Angeles-class attack submarine USS Key West (SSN-722),
one of four Pacific Fleet submarines to strike at targets in Iraq
during Operation Iraqi Freedom, returned to its homeport of Pearl
Harbor on 24 July 2003.
left for deployment on 24 January and was in the Arabian Gulf when
coalition forces began the initial strike against targets in Iraq.
“We were ready when the call came, and our crew performed
flawlessly in combat,” said Commanding Officer CDR Chuck Merkel,
who has the unique distinction of being the only submarine commander
who has led his crew into back-to-back combat operations since World
For one Key
West crewmember, just 22 years old and with only two years
in the Navy, this was a memorable milestone in his career. Fire
Control Technician Seaman David G. Young, a native of Greenville,
South Carolina, was on duty when the call came to go to war. “I
was on watch in the Vertical Launch Center, where we open the hatches
and prepare the missiles to be shot… It was tense, but everyone
was ready to go,” said Young.
As for getting
to be part of the action, Young and his fellow Sailors were glad
to be able to contribute to Operation Iraqi Freedom. “You
sit out there for a long time, and you finally get to do something.
I feel proud. We did a good job. We’ve been hearing a lot
of good things being said about us,” said Young.
As for his first
deployment, Young was glad to be a part of something he will never
forget. “This is my first deployment. It’s a good way
to start out. Most Sailors don’t ever get a chance to do what
we’ve done, but I got to do it my first time. You can’t