By Rick Burke, Navy Office of Community Outreach
ROTA, Spain – A native of Clinton, North Carolina, is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard USS Donald Cook, a guided-missile destroyer, forward-deployed to Rota, Spain. Donald Cook is currently on her 11th patrol of the U.S. Sixth Fleet area of responsibility in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe and Africa, operating in the East Atlantic, Mediterranean Sea and Black Sea.
Chief Petty Officer Joshua Mclellan, a graduate of Union High School in Rose Hill, NC and Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, Illinois, joined the Navy almost 20 years ago.
“I am proud to serve aboard my ship in a leadership role carrying out our nation’s mission,” said Mclellan. “We deploy around the world projecting our nation’s strength, so that no nation will think that we are unable to defend ourselves or allies at any time. It’s my honor to be here and train the next generation of leadership to take my place in service one day.”
Today, Mclellan serves aboard a ship with more than 300 other sailors, who make up the ship’s crew. Their jobs are highly specialized and range from handling weaponry to maintaining the engines along with a multitude of other assignments that keep the ship mission-ready at all times.
USS Donald Cook is named after U.S. Marine Corps Col. Donald Cook, who posthumously received the Medal of Honor for his selfless acts as a Prisoner of War during the Vietnam War. Cook shared food and medicine with his fellow prisoners, despite his own deteriorating health.
USS Donald Cook remembers his legacy by flying a POW flag at all times.According to Navy officials, guided-missile destroyers are capable of conducting anti-air warfare, anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare. Fast, maneuverable, and technically advanced, destroyers provide the required warfighting expertise and operational flexibility to execute any tasking at sea.
Donald Cook is one of four destroyers based in Rota, Spain, assigned to Commander, Task Force 65 in support of NATO’s Integrated Air Missile Defense architecture. These Forward-Deployed Naval Forces-Europe ships have the flexibility to operate throughout the waters of Europe and Africa, from the Cape of Good Hope to the Arctic Circle, demonstrating their mastery of the maritime domain.
With more than 90 percent of all trade traveling by sea, and 95 percent of the world’s international phone and internet traffic carried through fiber optic cables lying on the ocean floor, Navy officials continue to emphasize that the prosperity and security of the United States is directly linked to a strong and ready Navy.
According to Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday, four priorities will focus efforts on sailors, readiness, capabilities and capacity.
“For 245 years, in both calm and rough waters, our Navy has stood the watch to protect the homeland, preserve freedom of the seas, and defend our way of life,” said Gilday. “The decisions and investments we make this decade will set the maritime balance of power for the rest of this century. We can accept nothing less than success.”
As a member of the U.S. Navy, Mclellan, as well as other sailors, know they are a part of a service tradition providing unforgettable experiences through leadership development, world affairs and humanitarian assistance. Their efforts will have a lasting effect around the globe and for generations of sailors who will follow.
“My service is my way of giving back to my country and my country’s way of showing those who know me, and how much our country has to offer through service,” added Mclellan. “My service has uplifted me from humble beginnings, provided for my family and given me an adventurous life I never could have dreamed of myself. I guess you could say I joined to be a part of something bigger than myself, I just never imagined how many doors it would open for me.”