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North Mecklenburg High grad assigned to Navy destroyer
Dawson Hunter sails USS Thomas Hudner
Published Thursday, May 24, 2018 3:19 pm
by Tom Gagnier

Seaman Dawson Hunter is a graduate of North Mecklenburg High School.

BATH, Maine – A 2016 North Mecklenburg High School graduate is serving as part of the Pre Commissioning Unit for the future Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, USS Thomas Hudner.

Seaman Dawson Hunter is a culinary specialist assigned to DDG 116 in Bath, Maine.

As a culinary specialist Hunter is responsible for food preparation and serving meals to the crew.

“When you work on the mess decks you’re eventually going to meet everyone on the ship,” said Hunter. “People seem to be happier when they’re around food.”

The Hudner is currently undergoing tests and trials in preparation for delivery to the U.S. Navy from shipbuilder Bath Iron Works. Arleigh Burke class destroyers measure approximately 500 feet long and are powered by four gas turbines that allow the ship to achieve over 30 mph in open seas. Destroyers are tactical multi-mission surface combatants capable of conducting anti-air warfare, anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, and ballistic missile defense, as well as humanitarian assistance. Fast, maneuverable, and technically advanced, destroyers provide the required warfighting expertise and operational flexibility to execute a variety of missions.

“Thomas J. Hudner Jr., a naval aviator who retired as a captain, received the Medal of Honor from President Harry S. Truman for displaying uncommon valor during an attack on his element leader, the first African American naval aviator to fly in combat, Ensign Jesse L. Brown,” said Cmdr. Nathan W. Scherry, commanding officer, PCU Thomas Hudner. “On 07 May 2012, Secretary Mabus announced that DDG 116 will be named in Captain Hudner's honor.

“Today, as the Navy's finest 300 Sailors crew the 66th Arleigh Burke Class Destroyer, they do so with a tremendous amount of honor, pride, and sense of duty. We are extremely honored to be able to carry Captain Hudner's values and legacy forward so that they are never forgotten. We are proud to be able to carry out our missions in defense of our country's freedom and values, and humbled to be part of the Hudner family.”

Hunter has carried lessons learned from his hometown into his military service.

“Working hard pays off pretty much all the time,” said Hunter. “It definitely is appreciated here in the Navy.”

With a crew of over 300 sailors, each crew member’s job is important to the smooth operation of the ship. The jobs range from weapon handling to navigation.

“I am the first in my family to serve in the military,” said Hunter.

Hunter’s proudest accomplishment is graduating boot camp.

“It think it serves as a solid starting point to jump start the rest of my hopefully successful career,” he said.

Close living conditions build strong fellowship among the crew, Navy officials explained. The crew is highly motivated, and quickly adapt to changing conditions. It is a busy life of specialized work, watches, and drills.

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s newest ships, Hunter and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.

“Serving in the Navy means elevating myself to a set of higher standards while protecting my country at the same time,” said Hunter.

The construction of the ship is over 98 percent complete. The ship is scheduled for commissioning in late 2018 in Boston, Mass.


Congratulations! Hard work does pay off! The North Meck Family is proud of you!
Posted on May 25, 2018

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