By Tom Gagnier
Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class
Navy Office of Community Outreach
A class of 1998 Niagara-Wheatfield High School graduate and Niagara Falls, New York, native is serving as part of the Pre-Commissioning Unit for the future Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, USS Thomas Hudner (DDG 116).
Chief Petty Officer David Vendetti is a fire controlman assigned to DDG 116 in Bath, Maine. As a fire controlman, Vendetti is responsible for training and the professional development of junior sailors.
"I really enjoy seeing the progress and achievements sailors make in their Navy careers," said Vendetti.
DDG 116 is currently undergoing tests and trials in preparation for delivery to the U.S. Navy from shipbuilder Bath Iron Works. Arleigh Burke-class destroyers measure approximately 500 feet long and are powered by four gas turbines that allow the ship to achieve over 30 mph in open seas. Destroyers are tactical multi-mission surface combatants capable of conducting anti-air warfare, anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare and ballistic missile defense, as well as humanitarian assistance. Fast, maneuverable and technically advanced, destroyers provide the required war fighting expertise and operational flexibility to execute a variety of missions.
"Thomas J. Hudner Jr., a naval aviator who retired as a captain, received the Medal of Honor from President Harry S. Truman for displaying uncommon valor during an attack on his element leader, the first African American naval aviator to fly in combat, Ensign Jesse L. Brown," said Cmdr. Nathan W. Scherry, commanding officer, PCU Thomas Hudner. "On 7 May 2012, Secretary Mabus announced that DDG 116 will be named in Captain Hudner's honor. Today, as the Navy's finest 300 Sailors crew the 66th Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, they do so with a tremendous amount of honor, pride and sense of duty. We are extremely honored to be able to carry Captain Hudner's values and legacy forward so that they are never forgotten. We are proud to be able to carry out our missions in defense of our country's freedom and values, and humbled to be part of the Hudner family."
Vendetti has carried lessons learned from his hometown into his military service.
"Take care of your sailors as if they were your own family. Family is everything," said Vendetti.
With a crew of over 300 sailors, each crew member's job is important to the smooth operation of the ship. The jobs range from weapon handling to navigation.
Vendetti has military ties with family members who have previously served and is honored to carry on the family tradition.
"My grandfather served in the Army, and my father served in the Army during Vietnam," said Vendetti. "I also have uncles and cousins in the Navy."
Vendetti's proudest accomplishment is earning his chief petty officer anchors.
"Chief is the pinnacle of an enlisted Navy career," added Vendetti. "Years of dedication and sacrifice go into earning those anchors."
Close living conditions build strong fellowship among the crew, Navy officials explained. The crew is highly motivated, and quickly adapt to changing conditions. It is a busy life of specialized work, watches and drills.
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy's newest ships, Vendetti and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.
"Next to being a husband and a father, it's a distinct honor to serve our great nation," said Vendetti. "Navy chief, Navy pride."
The construction of the ship is over 98 percent complete. The ship is scheduled for commissioning in late 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. For more information about the commissioning, visit http://www.usshudnerddg116.org.