Adairsville High graduate participating in a critical NATO mission

August 9, 2018--10:16 a.m.


A 2010 Adairsville High School graduate and Adairsville, Georgia, native is serving our country in the Navy, living on the coast of Spain, and participating in a critical NATO ballistic missile defense (BMD) mission while assigned to the guided-missile destroyer USS USS Donald Cook.

Petty Officer 1st Class Donald "Tripp" Abernathy is a hull maintenance technician aboard one of the four advanced warships forward-deployed to Rota, Spain, a small village on the country’s southwest coast 65 miles south of the city of Seville.

A Navy hull maintenance technician is responsible for metal fabrication and welding services as well as pollution control systems onboard.

Abernathy credits success in the Navy with lessons learned growing up in Adairsville.

“Growing up, I learned the appreciation of opportunity, the importance of self-value and a hard work ethic,” said Abernathy. “I've carried these lessons into my every day naval career.”

These four destroyers are forward-deployed in Rota to fulfill the United States’ phased commitment to NATO BMD while also carrying out a wide range of missions to support the security of Europe.

According to the NATO website, many countries have, or are trying to develop ballistic missiles. The ability to acquire these capabilities does not necessarily mean there is an immediate intent to attack NATO, but that the alliance has a responsibility to take any possible threat into account as part of its core task of collective defense.

U.S. Navy Aegis ballistic missile defense provides scalability, flexibility, and mobility. These systems are equally beneficial to U.S. assets, allies and regional partners in all areas of the world. Positioning four ballistic missile defense ships in Spain provides an umbrella of protection to forward-deployed forces, friends, and allies while contributing to a broader defense of the United States.

Guided-missile destroyers are 510 feet long warships that provide multi-mission offensive and defensive capabilities. The ships are armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles, advanced gun systems, close-in gun systems and long-range missiles to counter the threat to friendly forces posed by manned aircraft, anti-ship, cruise and tactical ballistic missiles.

Destroyers are deployed globally and can operate independently or as part of carrier strike groups, surface action groups or amphibious readiness groups. Their presence helps the Navy control the sea. Sea control is the necessity for everything the Navy does. The Navy cannot project power, secure the commons, deter aggression, or assure allies without the ability to control the seas when and where desired.

The ship is named after Medal of Honor recipient and Vietnam prisoner of war, U.S. Marine Corps Col. Donald G. Cook.

“Donald Cook’s crew is second to none in competency, resiliency, and enthusiasm,” said Cmdr. Matthew J. Powel, commanding officer of USS Donald Cook. “This team comes into work every day ready to accomplish the mission in one of the most demanding sea duty schedules the Navy has to offer and I couldn’t be more proud to be their captain.”

Serving in the Navy is a continuing tradition of military service for Abernathy, who has military ties with family members who have previously served. Abernathy is honored to carry on that family tradition.

“Graham Allen served more than 30 years with the Army and Air Force,” said Abernathy. “He inspired me to take advantage of the opportunities and live every moment to its fullest.”

While serving in the Navy may present many challenges, Abernathy has found many great rewards.

Abernathy is proud of achieving the rank of petty officer first class within five years of service as well as receiving two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals.

The hard work and professionalism of more than 300 women and men aboard Donald Cook are a testament to the namesake's dedication and the ship's motto, "Faith Without Fear."

Unique experiences build strong fellowship among the crew of more than 300 women and men aboard USS Donald Cook. Their hard work and professionalism are a testament to the namesake's dedication and the ship's motto, "Faith Without Fear." The crew is motivated, and can quickly adapt to changing conditions, according to Navy officials. It is a busy life of specialized work, watches, and drills. Serving aboard a guided-missile destroyer instills accountability and toughness and fosters initiative and integrity.

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Abernathy and other USS Donald Cook sailors know they are a part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.

“Serving in the Navy has allowed me to lead sailors of diverse backgrounds in some of the most demanding situations,” said Abernathy.

Living in Spain while serving at U.S. Naval Hospital Rota has been a positive impact on sailors, including Abernathy.

“My favorite part about serving in Spain is visiting historic Roman structures and the opportunity to visit ports throughout Europe and the Mediterranean,” said Abernathy.

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brian T. Glunt, Navy Office of Community Outreach

Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Amanda Rae Moreno