San Diego, California - Daughters of Medal of Honor recipient Marine Corps First Sergeant Jimmie E. Howard embarked the guided-missile destroyer USS Howard (DDG 83) during its Tiger Cruise from Pearl Harbor to San Diego, November 28 to December 5.
Yvette and Yvonne Howard joined the crew's friends and family for the rare opportunity to experience life on a naval vessel at sea and to share stories about their father.
In 1967, President Lyndon Johnson awarded the Medal of Honor to Jimmie, a native of Burlington, Iowa, for his courageous leadership during the Vietnam War. Jimmie settled in San Diego following his retirement from the Marine Corps in 1972. He passed away at his home in 1993 and is buried at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego.
"We take every opportunity we can get to spend time with the crew, and now their families and friends as well," said Yvette Howard. "The dedication and hard work they display is exactly what the Navy-Marine Corps team is all about."
Howard is homeward bound after a six-month deployment to the Indo-Asia-Pacific region and the Arabian Gulf in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. During the deployment the crew supported the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group as it conducted more than 1,300 combat sorties into Iraq and Syria in addition to exercises and operations including Exercise Malabar and the landmark three-carrier strike force operations.
"The Howard team has performed incredibly during our deployment," said Howard's Commanding Officer Cmdr. Ryan Billington. "We've traveled over 50,000 miles and across 14 time zones together. Our ability to complete the various missions assigned is a direct reflection of the effort these Sailors put into their work. Our collective success is attributable to the perseverance and fighting spirit that the Howard crew displays each and every day."
Howard's Tigers travelled from all over the country to get a glimpse of the life their Sailors lead. While aboard, Sailors gave Tigers the opportunity to tour the ship, dine on the mess decks with the crew, observe underway replenishment operations, and spend quality time with their Sailor sponsors.
"Seeing the hard work that the ship's crew puts in each day is nothing short of inspiring," said Yvonne Howard. "It's always such a privilege to see them serving their country at sea or in port."
Throughout the week, Howard participated in various special events with the rest of the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group. Carrier Air Wing 11, embarked aboard aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68), conducted an air power demonstration that included F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, F/A-18C Hornets, E/A-18 Growlers, MH-60R/S Seahawk helicopters with rescue swimmers, and E-2D Hawkeyes. Pilots screamed past the ships and even broke the sound barrier. They concluded the demonstration with a formation flight directly above the ships to the awe of the crowd.
Howard also showcased her own crew-served weapons for the embarked Tigers during a sea power demonstration. Destroyers USS Kidd (DDG 100) and USS Shoup (DDG 86) lined up with Howard along the port side of Nimitz. The three destroyers' 5-inch guns turned to port and sent a synchronized torrent of firepower across the water.
The Tigers also experienced several more common evolutions firsthand.
"It was great to be able to watch Howard come alongside a supply ship this week," said Sandy Giancarli, an embarked guest from Manasquan, New Jersey. "It's even more impressive when you think of how many times these destroyers have to do this in order to stay running and keep the crew fed."
Tigers also joined the various Morale, Welfare, and Recreation-led events offered throughout the week. Howard hosted a bingo night, board games, movie night, and an ice cream social to emphasize the importance of maintaining crew morale during deployment.
As Howard sails into San Diego, her crew will honor Jimmie as they pass his final resting place - a fitting end to a successful deployment.