A Canyon High School graduate who has risen to distinction in the United States Navy recently took command of the U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge in Japan.
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Capt. Richard McCormack received command on Monday, Oct. 28 in a change of command ceremony with Capt. Will Pennington, who served on the Blue Ridge since Jul. 31, 2012.
Pennington has been assigned to Naval Air Forces Atlantic in Norfolk, Va., and McCormack previously served as executive officer aboard the USS George H.W. Bush.
He has served in the Navy for 29 years.
McCormack lived in several states throughout his childhood. He was born in Winchester, Mass. and lived in New Hampshire and Arizona before moving to the Santa Clarita Valley for high school.
He and his twin brother Russell graduated from Canyon High in 1984.
Though their mother was a nurse and both brothers volunteered at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital during high school, they decided to enlist in the Navy after graduation.
“My mom was a nurse and a single parent for the most part,” he said, “and I think she had some drive to want us to go into medicine.”
But McCormack, who has been decorated with the Bronze Star and three Meritorious Service Medals among others, credits the Navy with teaching him similar values–the importance to taking care of others and commitment to duty.
“I think the most important that I’ve learned in my career is taking care of my people, taking care of my sailors, …making sure they’re equipped and trained and ready to support the Navy,” he said.
His tour of duty aboard the Blue Ridge will last approximately 12 to 15 months.
“As the flagship, we provide persistent communication capabilities for the 7th Fleet Commander,” McCormack said. “…We cover 48 million square miles, which includes 35 countries in Southeast Asia, South Asia, North Asia and Oceania.”
He attributes his success in the Navy to the support of his family, particularly his wife and his four children, and to “the drive to take care of the people you work with every day.”
“I am truly honored to be given the opportunity to command my crew of approximately 620 sailors, all of whom live and work aboard this ship and call Yokosuka, Japan home,” he said.
When asked what he would say to young men and women considering a career in the Navy or any branch of the U.S. Military, McCormack cautioned them to consider the level of commitment required of them, but also emphasized that military service is a very rewarding experience
“I would first ask them to make sure that they’re looking to do it for all the right reasons. They should talk to their families. They should talk to their friends,” he said.
But he continued, “Focus your efforts on all the right things–honor, courage and commitment, our bedrock values. And most importantly, don’t let anyone ever tell you that you can’t do it.”
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Source: Santa Clarita News