SAN DIEGO – A 2005 Durant High School graduate is serving in the Navy as part of a crew working aboard one of the country’s multimission combat ships.
Lt. j.g. Willie Parker, a first protection officer, is serving aboard the San Diego-based, guided-missile destroyer USS Higgins, which returned in October from a nine-month deployment to the Middle East and Southeast Asia. The ship and its crew of more than 250 sailors conducted operations with the USS Nimitz Carrier Strike Group and took part in a number of exercises, theater security cooperation events, and maritime presence operations with partner nations.
“I am continually grateful for the effort my crew displayed during deployment and after our return to San Diego,” said Cmdr. Nicole Shue, the commanding officer. “The dedication and professionalism they put forth daily reaffirms their commitment to their country and the naval service.”
As a 27-year-old with numerous responsibilities, Parker is learning about himself as a sailor and a person. He is also getting a firsthand look at the multimission ships that provide both offensive and defensive capabilities. Destroyers can operate independently or as part of carrier strike groups, surface action groups, amphibious ready groups, and underway replenishment groups.
The Higgins is 505 feet long, 59 feet wide and weighs nearly 8,700 tons. Twin gas turbine engines push the ship through the water at more than 30 mph.
“I’ve developed my confidence,” said Parker. “I can rely on myself and also gather humbleness in seeking help when I need it.”
Parker said it is an exciting time to be in the Navy, and serving aboard a ship is something he never expected to be doing just a couple years ago.
“It’s been rewarding,” said Parker. “You learn to take the good with the bad. The people you work with in the Navy are the best qualified in the world and can take that expertise to help them in civilian life.”
The nine-month deployment of USS Higgins to the Middle East and Southeast Asia directly supported theater security cooperation events and maritime presence operations with partner nations.