This year, as Americans reflect on the 75th Anniversary of World War II, some Navy sailors have a special bond with the occasion. Miami native and Christopher Columbus High School graduate, Petty Officer Second Class Thomas Baldassarre, serves aboard a ship named after a historic figure from that war, USS Winston S. Churchill.
Baldassarre works as an information systems technician, which is responsible for working on communications and computer systems.
“The opportunity to work on a multi-billion dollar warship is rare,” Baldassarre said.
USS Winston S. Churchill, currently based in Norfolk, VA, was commissioned in 2001 and named after Winston S. Churchill. Churchill served as the Prime Minister of Britain during World War II.
Under his leadership, the British military resisted the German bombardment of the British Isles and pushed the western front of the European theater that would help cause the eventual German surrender.
“The diversity with this command allows me to work next to people from all backgrounds,” Baldassarre said.
Beginning with the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941, the United States joined the Allied Forces to end the global conflict. The U.S. Navy was ordered to protect and defend the country and its allies during a two-front war in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
Fifty seven sailors earned the Medal of Honor, the military’s highest personal award, for service during World War II. The Navy now has 51 ships named in honor of significant people and events of the conflict.
“When I think about World War II, I think about the resolve that the U.S. and U.K. had in defeating the Axis powers,” said Cmdr. Paul M. Allgeier, commanding officer, USS Winston Churchill. “The faces and voices of that resolve were Franklin D Roosevelt and Winston S. Churchill. As those two champions of freedom were tied together in WWII, so they are tied together in our Navy with DDG-80 and DDG-81 bearing their names. It is humbling to command a ship named for one of the these champions that preserved freedom for the world.”
According to Navy officials, destroyers are tactical multi-mission surface combatants capable of conducting anti-air warfare, anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare, as well as humanitarian assistance. Fast, maneuverable, and technically advanced, destroyers provide the required warfighting expertise and operational flexibility to execute any tasking at sea.
Serving in the U.S. Navy has allowed Baldassarre to continue learning about the legacy of those who served during World War II and to pass on the tradition to the future of the Navy.
“I am first generation Navy,” Baldassarre said. “It is an honor to wear this uniform.”
For more information about Winston Churchill visit www.gov.uk/government/people/winston-churchill. For more information about USS Winston Churchill visit www.public.navy.mil/surflant/ddg81/Pages/default.aspx. For more information about World War II 75th anniversary commemoration visir www.history.navy.mil/browse-by-topic/wars-conflicts-and-operations/world-war-ii.html.