Local Sailor Serves Aboard Prestigious Ship

SAN DIEGO, CA – A 2009 Roy C. Ketcham High School graduate and Poughkeepsie, New York, native is serving aboard the WWII namesake warship, USS Spruance.

Petty Officer 1st Class Damien Gunter is a fire controlman aboard the San Diego based ship, a guided missile destroyer.

As a fire controlman, Gunter is responsible for being an operator for tomahawk weapon systems for all destroyers and cruisers in the Navy.

More than 300 Sailors serve aboard the ship, and their jobs are highly specialized, requiring both dedication and skill. The jobs range from maintaining engines to handling weaponry along with a multitude of other assignments that keep the ship mission ready at all times, according to Navy officials.

Gunter has carried lessons learned from his hometown into his military service.

“Growing up my parents taught me a sense of responsibility which has made a smoother transition for me in the Navy,” he said.

Destroyers are warships that provide multi-mission offensive and defensive capabilities. They are about 510 feet long and can be armed with tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles, variants of the SM missile family, advanced gun systems and close-in gun systems.

Destroyers are deployed globally and can operate independently, as part of carrier strike groups, surface action groups, or amphibious readiness groups.

Spruance is armed with long range missiles intended for air defense to counter threats to friendly forces posed by manned aircraft, anti-ship, cruise and ballistic missiles.

It was commissioned in 2011 and named after Admiral Raymond A. Spruance. He was a key naval commander during WWII, leading U.S. naval forces during two of the most significant naval battles that took place in the Pacific Theatre: Battle of Midway and Battle of the Philippine Sea. He later served as the U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines.

At Midway, Spruance scored the first major victory for the United States over Japan; generally considered to be the turning point of the war in the Pacific.

“USS Spruance is responsible for 22 mission areas, with 350 people onboard each Sailor actively supports multiple missions, said Cmdr. Joshua Menzel, commanding officer of Spruance. “As a member of the Pacific Fleet, the crew of USS SPRUANCE patrol the same waters and trains to perform the same missions as the Sailors Admiral Spruance commanded during WWII.”

Gunter has military ties with family members who have previously served and is honored to carry on the family tradition.

“My uncle Patrick was a storekeeper for the Navy,” he said. “I also have a lot of family members who have served in different branches of the military but I am the only one in the warfare area. I like having the opportunity to provide a commitiment to my nation, my family and the sailors that I interact with on a day to day basis.”

Gunter’s proudest accomplishment is being the crew served weapons instructor.

“I instruct and qualify personnel on machine guns in the Navy,” he added. “I am most proud of this job because they told me that I couldn’t do it and I proved everyone wrong.”

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied-upon assets, Gunter and other Spruance sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes.

“Serving the Navy is special to me because I am securing the future for our nation’s children,” said Gunter.

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