Every year, for the past 20+ years, Huntington ISD has put on one of the best Veteran's Day programs in the state.  I've been honored to be part of these programs which are held in the Huntington High School auditorium. (check out the pictures from the 2015 program later in this article) During these assemblies, pictures of those Huntington graduates who are currently serving our country are featured.

Recently, the Media Outreach Department from the US Navy featured a Huntington native who is currently serving aboard the USS Tennessee, one of the world's most advanced nuclear-powered submarines.

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Petty Officer 3rd Class Richard Wilroy, a 2016 Huntington High School graduate, joined the Navy three and a half years ago.

“I joined the Navy because I wanted a fresh start and a change of pace,” added Wilroy. “I wanted to be a part of something as a team with the goal of protecting something a lot bigger than myself.”

Today, Wilroy serves as a sonar technician submarine whose responsibilities include using soundwaves in the ocean to maneuver the ship and keep it safe.

“We listen to everything in the ocean that puts noise out,” said Wilroy. According to Wilroy, the values required to succeed in the military are similar to those found in Huntington.

“Huntington taught me that hard work pays off,” said Wilroy. “Therefore, I always keep my nose on the grindstone and keep pushing until the job is done.”

Known as America’s “Silent Service,” the Navy’s submarine force operates a large fleet of technically advanced vessels. These submarines are capable of conducting rapid defensive and offensive operations around the world, in furtherance of U.S. national security.

There are three basic types of submarines: fast-attack submarines (SSN), ballistic-missile submarines (SSBN) and guided-missile submarines (SSGN). Fast-attack submarines are designed to hunt down and destroy enemy submarines and surface ships; strike targets ashore with cruise missiles; carry and deliver Navy SEALs; conduct intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions; and engage in mine warfare.

The Navy's ballistic-missile submarines, often referred to as "boomers," serve as a strategic deterrent by providing an undetectable platform for submarine-launched ballistic missiles. SSBNs are designed specifically for stealth, extended patrols and the precise delivery of missiles. Guided-missile submarines provide the Navy with unprecedented strike and special operation mission capabilities from a stealthy, clandestine platform.

Each SSGN is capable of carrying 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles, plus a complement of heavyweight torpedoes to be fired through four torpedo tubes. As a member of the submarine force, Wilroy is part of a rich 121-year history of the U.S. Navy’s most versatile weapons platform, capable of taking the fight to the enemy in the defense of America and its allies.

A major component of maritime security is homeported at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay.

“We do two big things here in King’s Bay: we send SSBNs on Strategic Deterrence Patrols and we forward deploy our guided missile submarines overseas,” said Rear Adm. John Spencer, Commander, Submarine Group Ten. “This work is essential to uphold the number one mission of the Navy: strategic deterrence. And this is the only home port for both of these types of submarines on the East Coast.”

Strategic deterrence is the Nation’s ultimate insurance program, and for decades, Kings Bay has been home to Ohio Class SSBN ballistic-missile submarines. Beginning in 2028, the new Columbia Class ballistic-missile submarines will arrive and provide continuous sea-based strategic deterrence into the 2080s.

As Wilroy and other sailors continue to train and perform the missions they are tasked with, they take pride in serving their country in the United States Navy. “Serving in the Navy means everything to me,” added Wilroy. “The lessons I've learned, as well as the brothers I've made, are something I wouldn’t change for anything. I've found a second family and a home away from home.”

Here's a look back at the Huntington Veterans Day Program from 2015

Huntington Veterans Day 2015