Story Number: NNS140220-19Release Date: 2/20/2014 8:59:00 PM
By Ens. Kara Lynn Yingling, USS Higgins Public Affairs
SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- The crew of the guided missile destroyer USS Higgins (DDG 76) held a remembrance ceremony, Feb. 18, for Marine Corps Col. William Richard Higgins, the ship's namesake, to recognize the 26th anniversary of his capture.
The ship's First Class Petty Officers Association (FCPOA) organized the event that included a brief biography of Higgins and excerpts from the Military Code of Conduct.
Higgins disappeared Feb. 17, 1988, while serving as Chief, Observer Group Lebanon and Senior Military Observer, United States Military Observer Group, United Nations Truce Supervision Organization as part of U.N. peacekeeping mission. His remains were eventually recovered and his body was interred at Quantico National Cemetery, Dec. 30, 1991.
Gunner's Mate 1st Class Ramon Villarreal, FCPOA vice-president, said the first class petty officers on the ship wanted to hold the ceremony for two main reasons.
"We believe he deserves recognition for his service," said Villarreal. "And we wanted all the Sailors on board to capture the importance of the ship's namesake."
Junior Sailors said they appreciated the ceremony being open to the entire crew.
"It is important to keep his spirit alive," said Sonar Technician 3rd Class Jonathan Stewart, who attended the event. "He lives on through the 313 Sailors who work and live among the deck plates and steel of our warship."
The ceremony concluded with a moment of silence where crew members reflected on the life and death of Higgins.
"Just as Col. Higgins espoused the Military Code of Conduct, so should we as we go about our daily routine," said Cmdr. Allen Johnson, Higgins' executive officer. "We can honor his memory through our actions and upholding the same high moral standards."
Higgins returned to its homeport of San Diego on Oct. 7, 2013, following completion of a deployment to the U.S. 5th and 7th Fleet areas of operation.
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