Twenty-six Oahu children participating in Operation DEFY (Drug Education for Youth) visited the Pearl Harbor-based, guided-missile destroyer USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60) on July 16 for a guided tour that included five interactive stations.
Operation DEFY is a leadership and mentorship program sponsored by the Department of Defense and hosted by US Pacific Command. Their mission is, “to provide commanders with a
drug demand reduction program that facilitates and enhances family readiness to promote mission accomplishment. The program develops youths through drug education, leadership and character development, positive role model mentoring, and community outreach to enhance the quality of life of military personnel and their families.”
The DEFY visitors and chaperones were greeted on-board by Paul Hamilton crew members and led through an introduction and safety walk-through before beginning the interactive demonstration and training tour.
The children visited five activity stations, each with a different area of operational focus across the spectrum of surface warfare capabilities. These included damage control and engineering; visit, board, search and seizure; crew-served weapons; the bridge and the forecastle.
“The thing that struck me most about these kids was that they were so excited about the things we sometimes take for granted on the ship,” said Lt. Erik Guiremand, the ship’s navigator, who welcomed the group aboard.
The children were able to visit a main engineering space, learn about the .50 caliber and M240 weapons, touch and use various navigation instruments on the bridge, and even toss heaving lines from the forecastle, all while interacting with Sailors who volunteered to run the training stations.
While sitting in the captain’s chair on the bridge, one participant remarked, “I could get used to this. I could do this my whole life.”
Upon the completion of the activity tour, the children were awarded honorary introduction to surface warfare stickers and certificates of completion to commemorate their successful completion of all the training events during their time aboard USS Paul Hamilton.