PHILIPPINE SEA – A chance connection enabled Sailors aboard USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60) to connect with naval history.
The mother of Jay Matthews, a 31-year employee of BAE Norfolk, has a medical caretaker in North Carolina. Another client of the health aide is William Stamey Peeler Sr., a former seaman 1st class, WWII veteran, and Purple Heart recipient who served aboard DDG 60’s predecessor ship USS Paul Hamilton (DD 590).
After learning of his service history, Matthews reached out on behalf of Peeler to the crew of Paul Hamilton via email. The crew received the message as the ship steamed through the Surigao Strait, where DD 590 and Peeler saw combat action 75 years earlier.
“When I received the email I almost could not believe it,” said Lt. Damon Goodrich-Houska, the plans and tactics officer aboard Paul Hamilton. “It is such an honor to be able to reach out and connect with an American hero like Mr. Peeler.”
To thank Mr. Peeler for his service and sacrifice, the Sailors of DDG 60 sent a Paul Hamilton-themed care package that included letters from the crew, multiple ship coins, a t-shirt, a mug, and letters, including a personal note from Cmdr. Mark W. Lawrence, the commanding officer of Paul Hamilton.
“One of the best parts of my position, and of being in the Navy, is the opportunity to preserve naval heritage,” said Lawrence. “It is our solemn duty to live up to the example of Sailors like Mr. Peeler and the rest of the DD 590 crew.”
The outreach is the latest in Paul Hamilton’s efforts to continue serving as a “link in the chain” of naval history. The ship regularly conducts commemoration ceremonies for naval battles and emphasizes the heritage of the ship. Paul Hamilton’s crest includes the seven battle stars DD 590 earned in WWII.
Stationed in San Diego, Paul Hamilton is the tenth Arleigh Burke-Class guided missile destroyer. She recently returned from a nine-month deployment to the U.S. 5th and 7th Fleets.