PACIFIC OCEAN - Sailors aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60) hoisted a 242-foot Homeward Bound Pennant, June 18.
The Homeward Bound Pennant is flown by ships that are on a continuous overseas duty for nine months and returning to a U.S. port. The length of the pennant is one foot for each Sailor on the ship who has served on board while overseas in excess of nine months. It is divided vertically into two sections. Closest to the hoist is a blue field with one white star indicating nine months of service away from the U.S. An additional star is for each additional six months away. The remaining pennant is divided horizontally into halves, the upper being white and the lower being red.
Upon Paul Hamilton's return to home port, the blue portion of the pennant with the white star will be presented to Cmdr. Luke A. Frost, Paul Hamilton's commanding officer.
"This is one of the great traditions of our Navy," said Frost. "Back in late July 2012, our then-Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Scott Carroll gathered the crew together on the flight deck to share the news that our deployment had been accelerated and extended. Paul Hamilton accepted the challenge with rock solid pride and professionalism. Admiral Arleigh Burke once said that destroyermen are the elite. This elite crew never flinched, never faltered and never waivered - now, after nine months and forty-four thousand miles, we're almost home. It will be our tremendous honor and privilege to sail proudly in to Pearl Harbor and greet our loved ones with the Homeward Bound Pennant streaming from the halyard."
The last time the ship flew the Homeward Bound Pennant was after completing a ten month deployment in 2003. Fire Controlman First Class Wade Gruby is the only Sailor currently on board Paul Hamilton who received a piece of the last pennant and will be entitled to a piece of the current pennant.
"I was a third class petty officer at the time when Paul Hamilton had completed a five-month Western Pacific deployment," said Gruby. "We were enjoying a port visit in Darwin, Australia en route to Pearl Harbor when we were ordered to turn around. Later, we spent five more months in the Arabian Gulf supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. I consider it an honor to own a piece of both of Paul Hamilton's Homeward Bound Pennants."
The remaining white and red half of the pennant will be divided equally among the officers and crew who served on Paul Hamilton for the prerequisite 270 days.
According to tradition, Paul Hamilton may fly the Homeward Bound Pennant until sunset on the day of her arrival in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
Paul Hamilton deployed Sept. 21, 2012 and has been operating in the U.S. 5th and 7th Fleet areas of responsibility for the past eight months, conducting a wide array of operations supporting regional security, counter-terrorism and combating transnational crime as partners in securing the global commons.
Paul Hamilton is one of 11 surface combatants assigned to Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, Destroyer Squadron THREE ONE. The ship is homeported in Pearl Harbor.