USS Arlington Crewmembers Visit Namesake City


Twenty-eight Sailors assigned to Pre-commissioning Unit Arlington (LPD 24) spent the weekend of Sept. 10-11 in the national capital region for the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on 9/11.

“To be able to come here and represent the ship and the Navy to the people of Arlington – because in a sense it is their ship, too – is a huge privilege,” said Arlington’s Prospective Executive Officer Cmdr. Brett Hershman.

Crew members spent part of the afternoon Sept. 10 with former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and his wife Joyce, the sponsor of the Navy’s newest amphibious transport dock ship.

“It’s a very special treat to have these Sailors with us here today,” Mr. Rumsfeld said. “I know that all of the people in the Pentagon [on 9/11] and are alive today are very appreciative that the Navy decided to name a ship ‘Arlington.’ We look forward to following the crew and the ship and its service life over the coming decades.”

Under construction at Huntington Ingalls Industries shipyard, Arlington combines 21st century amphibious shipbuilding and warfighting technologies to support current and future Marine Corps aircraft and landing craft, and will be capable of taking nearly 1,200 Sailors and Marines into harm’s way. The ship, which will be commissioned in 2012, is named for Arlington County, Va. in commemoration of the 184 victims and heroes who lost their lives in the Sept.11, 2001 attack on the Pentagon.

Mrs. Rumsfeld christened the ship in Pascagoula, Miss. March 26, and said she is thrilled to have that connection with the ship.

“Naming a ship ‘Arlington’ says a lot about our country and the people who volunteer to serve in the Navy,” she explained. “It’s an honor, and for now and forever.

“‘Arlington’ is our country’s way of saying ‘we have not forgotten,'” she continued. “It also means going forward with strength, honor and fortitude, and I feel lucky that we were able to have her Sailors in our home.”

Arlington Sailors also visited the Pentagon Memorial.

“The memorial is a quiet place for me to reflect, to remember what we are doing all this for,” Hershman noted.

The Sailors also joined approximately 5,000 other runners in the 10th Annual Arlington 9/11 5K Sept. 10, and won second place in the “military teams” category.

Arlington County Police Capt. Kevin Reardon, who attended the ship’s christening, welcomed the ship’s crew to Washington, D.C., a decade after the terrorist attack.

“I think it is very appropriate that the ship is named after what took place at the Pentagon 10 years ago, and that some of her Sailors are here now to meet some of the victims’ family members, and the police officers who responded,” he added.

Arlington Chaplain Lt. Victoria Chappell felt the trip to Washington D.C. was especially important for personal reasons.

“When those atrocities were committed on 9/11, I was a math teacher in New York,” she recalled. “I knew a door in my life had closed and another one opened, and I went to a recruiter the next day to join the Navy. There is no better way to serve my country than aboard a ship named ‘Arlington.'”

Source: navy, September 13, 2011;