USS Howard deploys

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – The San Diego-based guided-missile destroyer USS
Howard deployed to the Western Pacific Monday.

“We're excited to go out there,” Cmdr. David Zook, the vessel's
commanding officer said. “I'm a Seventh Fleet sailor, where I'm heading
to and I enjoy that area. I know a lot about that area and so does the crew,
and we've done a lot of training to make sure we're ready to go.”

The Seventh Fleet covers the Western Pacific and Indian oceans.

Tearful family members bade goodbye to the vessel's 320 officers and
enlisted sailors, who left just as the holiday season was getting underway.
Zook said he celebrated Christmas early with his wife and three daughters.

The USS Howard will be on security patrols and take part in exercises
with ships of other countries, according to the Navy. The length of the
deployment was not disclosed. The ship was most recently deployed in 2011.

The destroyer is named in honor of Marine Corps 1st Sgt. Jimmie E.
Howard, a combat veteran of both Korea and Vietnam who was awarded the Medal of
Honor, Silver Star and three Purple Hearts during his 27 years of service.

Following his retirement in 1972, he worked at a San Diego Veterans
Affairs office and was an assistant football coach at Point Loma High School.
He died in 1993 and is buried at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery.

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