PITTSBURGH (NNS) -- Sailors from the guided-missile destroyer USS Laboon (DDG 58) traveled to Pittsburgh March 18-21 to visit the hometown of their namesake and members of his family.
The Sailors visited with Sister Joan Laboon, the younger sister of the ship’s namesake at her covenant, Sisters of Mercy at Carlow University. The ship is named after Capt. John Laboon, a Navy chaplain also known as Father Jake.
“The relationship with Father Jake’s family is important because it helps tie our Sailors to him,” said Cmdr. Robert Lightfoot, Laboon’s commanding officer. “To hear people who knew him personally, and hear the stories we don’t hear every day, helps our Sailors understand who Father Jake was, and to better understand the example he set.”
Sister Laboon was present at the ship’s commissioning in March 1995, and this trip gave the current crew a chance to learn more about their namesake family.
“You can always form what you think what someone like Father Laboon was like, but hearing the stories from his family and those who knew him gives more meaning to the ship’s motto, Without Fear,” said Lt. Ethan Everts, the chaplain aboard the Laboon. “Continually reaching out and bringing the Laboon and the family together, and building those relationships are so important moving forward.”
“Making the connections with the Laboons who are living here is special for us and very dear to the crew,” said Ensign Morgan Crump, the administration officer aboard the Laboon. “It’s been really nice to reconnect with them.”
The Sailors listened to Korean War veterans during a presentation for the Veteran’s Breakfast Club at Point Park University where they shared their experiences during their time overseas. Lightfoot then gave a brief history of Father Laboon and the ship.
The Sailors also made visits to many veteran’s associations, including the Veteran’s Association Hospital and the Veteran’s Breakfast Club.
“This is a great way for veterans to tell their stories,” said Todd DePastino, the executive director of the Veterans Breakfast Club. “Hearing such an incredible story about a Pittsburgh native is incredible.”
Father Laboon joined the Navy during World War II and served aboard the submarine USS Peto (SS 265). One day on patrol in the Pacific Ocean, the ship spotted a downed pilot in the water. It was determined that it was too dangerous to move the submarine closer to save the pilot. Lt. j.g. Laboon volunteered to swim out to the pilot and bring him back. For his heroism, Laboon was awarded the Silver Star. Saving the pilot’s life had such an impact on Laboon that he joined the Chaplain Corps and continued to serve until his retirement in 1980.
The Laboon was commissioned on March 18, 1995 and is currently stationed in Norfolk, Virginia.
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