Dunford Greets Sailors, Visits USS Barry in Japan
YOKOSUKA, Japan --
Hours before the USS Barry headed out to sea today, the highest ranking U.S. military officer paid a visit to this forward-deployed ship.
As enlisted sailors in their dress whites saluted, Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stepped aboard to meet with some of the 300 sailors stationed aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer.
Dunford, who was accompanied by the commander of U.S. 7th Fleet, Navy Vice Adm. Joseph P. Aucoin, toured various sections of the ship and thanked sailors for all they do in safeguarding regional and global security.
"It’s a great boost for morale here," said the ship's executive officer, Navy Cmdr. David A. Huljack. The visit, he noted, came at a perfect time, as the crew members wrapped up their work at port and prepared to head back out to sea.
'Great Sailors Doing Great Things'
In January, the USS Barry, the fourth U.S. naval ship named after Commodore John Barry, left Norfolk, Virginia -- its homeport of more than 20 years -- to be forward-deployed to the 7th Fleet area of operations.
The USS Barry and its crew are supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, Huljack explained. The visit provided Dunford and Aucoin the opportunity to see "great sailors doing great things throughout the ship," he added.
"We've been very, very busy in port here," he said. "This marks the culmination of that effort and you can just see it in the sailors' faces that they are thrilled to show off their ship to the chairman and the fleet."
In addition, the crew was able to discuss the ship's capabilities and what it brings to the Asia-Pacific region, he said.
"It was a fantastic visit," Huljack said.
The chairman traveled to Japan after attending the chiefs of defense conference in Manila, Philippines, where he highlighted the importance of the Asia-Pacific region in regional and global peace and security.
Aboard the USS Barry: 'Your Own Little Family'
Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Edilson Lazo, a boatswain's mate, was one of the sailors in his dress whites who welcomed the high-level visitors. A native of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Lazo has been on the USS Barry for three-and-a-half years.
Lazo said he enjoys life on the ship and being in Japan.
"I like being forward-deployed because you come back to port a lot and it’s just a different atmosphere [than a deployment]," he said.
Lazo said he especially enjoys the camaraderie with his shipmates.
"It's fun," he said. "It’s your own little family."
(Follow Lisa Ferdinando on Twitter: @FerdinandoDoD)