WHITE BEACH OKINAWA, Japan– Sailors aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell (DDG 85) honored World War II veteran Wayne Heyart with a ceremony on the ship’s forecastle during a June 1 port visit to White Beach, Okinawa.
Heyart, a former Radioman 1st Class, toured McCampbell and spoke with Sailors about his experiences in the Navy during World War II. During the tour Heyart visited the ship’s combat information center, where Sailors discussed the differences between his former Radioman rate and its successor, the Information Systems Technician rate.
Heyart then participated in a pinning and re-enlistment ceremony on the ships forecastle, congratulating the Sailors in the spotlight and taking time to speak with the crew.
“It feels great to be back on a ship,” said Heyart. “I’m thinking about re-enlisting!” he joked.
Many members of the crew felt mutual feelings of appreciation for having the chance to host and honor a distinguished veteran like Heyart.
“It was a true honor to have him participate in my re-enlistment ceremony,” said Chief Information Systems Technician Robert Sheehan. “I really feel a connection between the battles he fought in these same seas we are in today, and now he is here as a living testament of that. Having him onboard for my re-enlistment was really special.”
Cmdr. “T.J.” Dixon, McCampbell’s commanding officer, presented the veteran with a command ball cap and a McCampbell coin.
“This is a special day for the McCampbell. Our name sake was in the same waters and same conflicts this man fought in,” said Dixon. “We have a connection to the past and we are honored to have Mr. Heyart come and share his experiences with us.”
Heyart’s son Greg accompanied him for the tour and ceremony and addressed the Sailors at the end to thank them for inviting him and his father aboard.
“It’s really great to be here today; because this is something my dad has talked about through the years. He’s going to be 88 this year and my whole life he has talked about his service and how meaningful it was to him, and how proud he was to serve his country,” said Greg Heyart. “I know the freedom I have and enjoy isn’t free, it comes at a price and my father has paid that price and you all have paid a price. So from the bottom of our hearts we cannot tell you how much we appreciate all that you do and we want to thank you for this wonderful day.”
The crew of the McCampbell stood in line to greet Wayne Heyart and invited him to come back and visit the crew.
“I want to thank all of you for welcoming me onboard, this really makes my years in the Navy that much better,” said Heyart.