U.S. Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, visited the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Stout and U.S. Naval Support Activity Souda Bay on Sunday as part of his annual USO Holiday Tour.
Dempsey took a tour of the ship and spoke with sailors about the importance of Stout’s mission.
“Having the Stout out here, on point for the nation, allows me to have a certain amount of confidence that we will manage through anything,” he said. “What I hope the sailors get out of my visit here is a sense of how deeply we appreciate what they are doing. This really sophisticated piece of equipment is really only as good as the men and women who man it, so I want to make sure that I get a chance to tell them personally how much I appreciate what they are doing.”
During his first visit to Greece as chairman, Dempsey also discussed the significance of the U.S. military’s presence in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.
“Stout being on station in the Mediterranean allows us to deter our adversaries, encourage diplomacy and to assure our allies that if deterrence fails, we will be ready,” he said.
The USO Holiday Tour brought a variety of celebrities on board, including reality television stars Willie and Jep Robertson from “Duck Dynasty,” Washington Nationals first-baseman Adam LaRoche, comedian Nephew Tommy, pop singer Bridget Kelly, and actress Allison Haislip.
“It’s an honor to have these people come and visit us. They could have gone to any ship, but they came to USS Stout,” said Navy Lt. j.g. Bryan Kuhn, an antisubmarine officer. “It is one thing to hear about these celebrities visiting other ships, but it’s completely different to actually experience it. We appreciate these kind gestures while deployed, and their visit gave the sailors something to look forward to. There is nothing that is going to replace being at home for the holidays, but it takes your mind off of the things you miss.”
At the nearby Naval Support Activity, Dempsey held an all-hands call, where he spoke with sailors, airmen, Marines and civilians. During the event, he presided over a re-enlistment ceremony for seven Souda Bay sailors. The formation was followed by a visit from the USO entertainers, who put smiles on the faces of everyone in attendance.
Stout, homeported in Norfolk, Va., is on a scheduled deployment supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations.
Press Release, December 10, 2013; Image: Wikimedia