DAHLGREN, Va. (NNS) -- The commanding officer of the guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87) presented the American flag the ship was flying on the first day of multiple missile attacks against U.S. forces in the Red Sea last year, to the commanding officer of the AEGIS Training and Readiness Center (ATRC) during a ceremony onboard Naval Support Activity South Potomac (NSASP), July 12.
"Last October, USS Mason came under three, separate cruise missile attacks from rebel forces operating in and from the coast of Yemen," explained Capt. Pete Galluch, ATRC commanding officer. "Working as a team, the crew successfully executed their AEGIS knowledge and skills in a very challenging environment and successfully defended the ship and other ships in company. Today, we are honored to welcome Cmdr. Stephen Aldridge and some of his crew to ATRC."
Aldridge was the executive officer of Mason during the attacks and assumed duties as the commanding officer in February 2017.
"Combat success comes from putting the work in everyday," Aldridge said. "Then at the moment of truth - the true test - three things must come together: a Sailor must be present, he or she must know how to operate his or her equipment, and that equipment must work. A common theme throughout both the formal review and anecdotal recollections is, Sailors under combat stress, perform at the level of their training."
He went on to emphasize how ATRC provides the critical training foundation for today's combat watch teams, "solid level of knowledge builds confidence; and with confidence comes toughness."
The crew was truly tested during the three anti-ship cruise missile attacks over seven days in October. A handful of Sailors reported to the deployed ship via small boat on October 12 and found themselves in combat, responding to a missile attack, that evening. For some junior Sailors, this was their first "real" day in the Navy.
"To express our many thanks to the subject matter experts at ATRC, I would like to present this American flag," Aldridge said. "It was proudly flying on October 9, 2016 onboard Mason during the first defense against a real world air threat in the history of the AEGIS Combat System."
As Galluch held the flag, he emphasized the importance of every individual in the audience.
"It is important you are here today," he said. "Everything we do at the schoolhouse prepares our Sailors to fight, win, and safely return home."
AEGIS Training and Readiness Center (ATRC) falls under the Center for Surface Combat Systems (CSCS) command. ATRC provides enlisted personnel with the knowledge, ability, and skill to operate and maintain the AEGIS Combat System through timely, effective, and integrated training delivered across Sailors' careers. ATRC also provides officers the knowledge, ability, and skill to operate, employ, and assess the readiness of the AEGIS and Ship Self Defense System (SSDS) combat systems aboard surface warships.
The AEGIS Combat System is a well-designed grouping of the AEGIS Weapons Systems with Anti-Air, Ballistic Missile Defense, Anti-Submarine, Anti-Surface and Strike Warfare, and associated weapons and communications equipment. All elements of these systems are taught at ATRC. In our ever-advancing world, ATRC utilizes a blended learning solution that includes standard classrooms, hands-on labs, simulations, as well as computer-based and interactive courseware training while still maintaining the training mission for the legacy AEGIS fleet.
For information on the AEGIS Training and Readiness Center, visit https://www.netc.navy.mil/centers/cscs/atrc/
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