SOUDA BAY, Greece (NNS) -- Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, visited the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Stout (DDG 55) and U.S. Naval Support Activity (NSA) Souda Bay as part of his annual USO Holiday Tour, Dec. 7.
Dempsey was given 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," said Depmsey. "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 the chairman, he 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."
The USO Holiday Tour brought a variety of celebrities on board, which included reality television stars Willie and Jep Robertson, from "Duck Dynasty," Washington Nationals baseball player 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 Anti-Submarine Warfare Officer, L.t. j.g Bryan Kuhn. "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."
Sailors had a chance to enjoy a barbeque on the flight deck with Dempsey and the entertainers.
"It is very rewarding to have someone so high ranking take time out of their busy schedule to share a heartfelt happy holidays while we are deployed. It gives us a sense of purpose," said Master-at-Arms Krystal Meza. "It's also great for the celebrities to come out here and let us know they appreciate what we are doing. It's a great feeling to know that they care about us."
At the nearby Naval Support Activity Dempsey held an all-hands call where he spoke with Sailors, Airmen, Marines and civilians. During the event, Dempsey presided over a reenlistment ceremony for seven Souda Bay Sailors. The formation was followed by a visit from USO entertainers who put a smile 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.
Join the conversation on Twitter at www.twitter.com/naveur_navaf and follow us on Facebook www.facebook.com/USNavalForcesEuropeAfrica.
For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/naveur/.