USS Jack H. Lucas (DDG 125) commissioned in Tampa, joins the Navy’s active fleet
TAMPA, Fla. (WLOX) - Hattiesburg native Capt. Jack H. Lucas was the youngest serviceman in World War II to receive the Medal of Honor. Saturday in Tampa, the Navy commissioned an Ingalls-built Arleigh Burke class Flight III guided-missile destroyer that bears his name.
During the ceremony, guest speaker Under Secretary of the Navy, The Honorable Erik Raven wished the crew of Jack H Lucas fair winds and following seas.
“Commissioning the Jack H. Lucas means we continue to deliver fast, agile, and networked surface combatants to the Navy. The Jack H. Lucas is built to fight. It is a fast, maneuverable, versatile, and lethal ship – capable of tackling any mission it is given,” said Raven. “It will keep the Navy and Marine Corps adaptive and ready, and also uphold our commitment to maintaining the free flow of commerce, deterring military aggression, and facilitating quick responses to natural disasters across the globe.”
Ruby Lucas, one of the ship’s sponsors, and Jack’s wife at the time of his death, emotionally thanked the audience for coming to honor her husband before giving the order to “man our ship and bring her to life!” alongside co-sponsor, philanthropist Catherine B. Reynolds.
Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers are the backbone of the U.S. Navy’s surface fleet. They’re capable of simultaneously fighting air, surface and subsurface battles. And the USS Jack H Lucas is the first AEGIS Weapon System, Baseline 10, to be commissioned.
“To the crew and your families, the sacrifices you make and what you do for our nation are the inspiration for what shipbuilders do as a way of life and we draw energy each day knowing that we are building not just the tools of keeping peace, but also your home away from home,” said Ingalls Shipbuilding President Kari Wilkinson. “To the men and women of Jack H. Lucas (DDG 125), it is an honor to serve you and we look forward to watching the spectacular things you will do on your most important future endeavors.”
On behalf of the President of the United Sates and for the Secretary of the Navy, the 20th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, Sgt. Maj. Carlos Ruiz, USMC, placed the USS Jack H Lucas into commission.
“Something inside Lucas’ souls said, ‘I need to get to the fight.’ And fight he did,” Ruiz reflected. “The Navy and the Marine Corps team - our destinies are intertwined. The Navy, the ship, represents the perseverance of Americans. This beautiful ship represents the grit, the determination, of enlisted Marines, enlisted Sailors, and all of us that we will not give up until we win.”
“My charge to you and your team is to keep that tenacity, that toughness, and grit going because the challenges will keep coming,” Adm. Daryl Caudle, commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command counseled Oster and his crew. “It will be hard, but I know that you and the 330 of the Navy’s finest Sailors are the team to do it. Your namesake, 17-year-old Medal of Honor recipient, Jack H Lucas, carried that same fiery passion.”
The ship’s motto, “Indestructible” is reflection of Lucas’ survival, first on Iwo Jima and later from several other traumatic events after the war that rivaled his exploits as a Marine.
Capt. Brett Oster, Jack H Lucas’ commanding officer, recognized the driving force behind the ship’s namesake, and how his crew reflects that memory.
“There is something you can never, ever deny about Jack H Lucas. That man loved this country. That is why we’re here, because we love this country. You can never take that away - his dedication,” said Oster. “When you have a purpose, and you have dedication, and you have vision, and you have teamwork, anything that you set your sites on can come together.”
Saturday’s commissioning ceremony is the culmination of five years of work from everyone involved in the construction of Jack H Lucas, its operations, and all those involved in bringing the ship to life.
Honoring the whole of Lucas’ life, his widow Ruby, The Trail of Honor Foundation, and Flags of Honor Escort presented the ship with a vest adorned with his Medal of Honor. The vest traveled to Jack’s gravesite in Hattiesburg, Mississippi; numerous locations and Memorials to include the United States Marine Corps War Memorial and the World War II Memorial; the Never Forget Flag travelled to or thorough 20 states and the District of Columbia, amassing a total of 11,325.8 miles as part of Jack’s Vest Run before the presentation earlier this week.
To learn more about the USS Jack H Lucas (DDG 125), visit https://www.surfpac.navy.mil/ddg125/
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