Crew members render honors during the commissioning ceremony of the Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Me
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Wayne E. Meyer's Spirit Lives on in Namesake Ship's Commissioning

PHILADELPHIA (NNS) -- The Navy commissioned its newest destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG-108) during a ceremony in Philadelphia Oct. 10.

Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Gary Roughead, brought the ship to life during its commissioning ceremony at historic Penn's Landing.

The ship's commissioning ceremony paid homage to its recently deceased namesake Rear Adm. Wayne E. Meyer. Known in the Navy as the "father of Aegis," Meyer passed away Sept. 1, just one month shy of the ship's commissioning ceremony.

"Even though he only left us a short time ago, his legacy will live on in this ship and in the spirit and in the officers and Sailors who will serve her for generations to come," said Roughead. "His legacy, indeed he does have one powerful legacy, and his memory will live on in our Navy."

Meyer is responsible for the innovative engineering team during the 1970s that developed the Aegis air defense system carried aboard today's cruisers and destroyers.

"Adm. Meyer's brainchild has become an enduring staple of our fleet because the system has been able to evolve, to flex to our defense needs as they change over time, underpinned by solid systems engineering," said Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "If I gave a speech about Wayne Meyer and didn't mention systems engineering, I would not be able to get off this ship," he joked.

"Its enduring capabilities are speed and agility and adaptability. Aegis is also a system that we share with the navies of five other nations, many of whom it is great to see represented here today," said Mullen.

The Aegis system is a combination of powerful radars, missiles and computers designed to defend U.S. carrier strike groups at sea. Meyers is credited with pioneering the Aegis weapon system that has forever changed the face of Navy's ships.

"I lived with a legend," said Anna Mae Meyer, the admiral's widow and the ship's sponsor.

It was 1983 when the Navy commissioned its first Aegis warship, the cruiser Ticonderoga. Twenty-six sister ships followed suit. Then in 1991, the first Aegis destroyer, USS Arleigh Burke, raised its commissioning pennant. Meyer attended every Aegis systems commissioning ceremony, a total of 84.

"It's a heartbreaker," said Electronics Technician 3rd Class Harry Santiago. "We thought he was going to be here."

Despite the fact that he was not there, his family and the crew were determined to keep his spirit alive. "We all pulled together and pressed on. We would love to have him here but we believe he's here in spirit," said Information Systems Technician 3rd Class Daniel Bongard.

The crowd fell silent as Meyer's son Robert walked on board bearing one of his father's naval hats. His voice evoking a chill as he said these words over the loudspeaker, "Wayne E. Meyer spirit, arriving." The crowd erupted into applause as the crew manned the rails.

Cmdr. Nick Sarap, the Wayne E. Meyer's commanding officer, then took a salute from the ship's executive officer, Lt. Cmdr. Robert Brooks, and turned to address the CNO.

"Admiral Roughead, USS Wayne E. Meyer is in commission, and I am in command."

And with that, the ship and the spirit of Meyer came to life.

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