- As HIGGINS, one of the four guided-missile destroyers in the Nimitz Strike Group Surface Action Group (SAG) departed for a Western Pacific deployment Jan. 14, the crew paused to celebrate the lives of two remarkable individuals.
Shortly after departing the San Diego area, the ship paid homage to their namesake, Colonel Richard “Rich” Higgins, a Marine who was captured in 1988 while conducting peace keeping mission in Lebanon with the United Nations. He was held hostage, tortured and eventually murdered by his captors on July 6th, 1990. Commander Andrew Carlson, commanding officer of the ship, asked the crew members to take a moment and reflect on the life of a great American. Cmdr. Carlson said, “As a crew looking forward to deployment, we should live by the words Col. Higgins claimed as his personal credo when he wrote, “I believe I must be technically and tactically proficient. I must strive unceasingly to accomplish the goals of readiness, training and quality to accomplish any combat mission.” The crew celebrated his birthday on the mess decks with a cake.
The culinary specialists remained busy baking when only a few days later on January 21st the HIGGINS Diversity Committee facilitated the celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King’s Birthday as well. Boatswain Mate Chief Antonio Young prepared a brief presentation quoting Dr. King’s “Loving Your Enemies” speech from November 17th, 1957 when he said, “That within the best of us, there is some evil, and within the worst of us, there is some good. When we come to see this, we take a different attitude toward individuals.” Chief Young closed his comments asking those present to remember the steps Dr. Martin Luther King took not just for African Americans but for mankind as a whole.
Cmdr. Andrew Carlson was again on hand to pay tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, hailing how “his efforts shifted the path the United States was on and led us in the right direction.” He suggested Dr. King’s values were ones that should be utilized in the work spaces onboard the ship, in particular he said, “Just as Dr. King’s sacrifices, struggles and dedication led to change so can our efforts onboard HIGGINS lead to a positive environment. He questioned the crew, asking just as Dr. King asked America years before, “What are you doing for others?”