SASEBO, Japan (April 21, 2011) – The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen (DDG 82) marked its tenth year of service April 21.
Commissioned in 2001, the ship is named in honor of the late Cmdr. Clyde Everett Lassen, an UH-2 Sea Sprite helicopter search and rescue pilot in Vietnam. Lassen, a native of Fort Meyers, Fl., was the first Naval Aviator to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroic efforts to rescue two aviators shot down behind enemy lines in North Vietnam on June 19, 1968.
Reflecting on Lassen’s great history, the crew gathered in celebration on the ship’s foc’sle. The event began with an invocation by Chief Gunner’s Mate Bless Roberts, followed by a reading of Cmdr. Clyde Lassen’s biography from Senior Chief Fire Controlman Jeffrey Mullins.
Addressing the crew as special guest speaker, Commander, Fleet Activities Sasebo Capt. Francis Martin has a special history with Lassen. As former Chief Staff Officer for Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 23, Martin witnessed Lassen’s crew certification, the last step during pre-commissioning of the ship.
“When something is started right, it is usually finished right,” said Martin to the crew. “I can attest that Lassen and her crew started things right, continue to do things right, and I am confident will finish out right.”
Martin is also a good friend of Lassen’s first Commanding Officer Capt. Sean E. O’Connor, who sent the crew his best wishes on it’s tenth birthday.
Lassen’s seventh and current Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Chip Wrye, reviewing all of Lassen’s accomplishments in only 10 years of service posed a question to the crew, “What makes Lassen special?”
“We hold ourselves to high standards,” said Wrye. “I have never seen a crew more involved and more caring than that on Lassen. Your strength to maintain a constant state of readiness and fighting capability is what carries on the spirit of Cmdr. Lassen.”
Various port calls and foreign relations, multi-national exercises and real-world operations, and rigorous training all attribute to Lassen’s success.
The ceremony continued with the presentation of the USNA Class of 1982 Cmdr. Clyde E. Lassen Memorial Leadership Award. Lt.j.g. John Jacobson and Chief Engineman Fred Coldsnow were both selected by their fellow leaders and then presented the prestigious award by Cmdr. Wrye for their strength, courage, and exemplary leadership on board Lassen.
The celebration culminated with a traditional cake cutting by Lassen’s most recently reported Sailor, Gunner’s Mate Seaman Apprentice Eric Marvin and Lassen’s longest serving Sailor Gas Turbine Systems Technician Electrical 1st Class Charles Chenault. Lassen is assigned to Destroyer Squadron Fifteen (DESRON15) and is currently in port Sasebo, Japan.