Story & Photos by Dick Brown
January 8, 2016
At USS NEW MEXICO’s fourth Change of Command ceremony on January 8, 2016, CDR Daniel Reiss relieved CDR Todd Moore as the submarine’s Commanding Officer. Due to winter weather, the ceremony took place indoors at the Dealey Center theater at Naval Submarine Base New London, Groton, CT. Commanders Reiss and Moore read their orders in the presence of the Commodore of Submarine Development Squadron 12, CAPT Leonard Dollaga, and 200 attendees.
Ceremony venue, Dealey Theater at Naval Submarine Base New London.
CDR Moore, who assumed command on September 16, 2013, had the once-in-a-lifetime experience of participating in under-ice operations (ICEX 2014) and made history when NEW MEXICO became the first VA-class boat to surface at the North Pole. Then in 2015, CDR Moore guided the boat on her second 6-month deployment in European Command’s Area of Responsibility where the boat’s assigned missions included testing experimental gear and supporting various fleet exercises. CDR Moore explains, “It is a difficult and dangerous business to take a submarine to sea, but we have the finest sailors in the world who make it look easy every day.” Guest speaker, CAPT Michael Brown, USN(Ret), mentioned that Sixth Fleet Commander, VADM James Foggo, is calling NEW MEXICO’s deployment the best in 2015.
CDR Dan Reiss delivers his remarks at the Change of Command ceremony.
CDR Dan Reiss already has valuable VA-class experience. He served as Operations Officer and Navigator aboard USS VIRGINIA and is a USS MISSISSIPPI plankowner where he served as the Executive Officer. He is looking forward to his NEW MEXICO command and acknowledged the crew rising to every challenge under CDR Moore’s leadership. “That is a tradition we will carry on as we face new challenges, so Todd and every other sailor who has served on this boat can continue to say proudly, ‘I am a New Mexico Submariner!’”
New Mexico Council President and retired Navy Captain Chuck Vaughan presents engraved pen set to CDR Moore, a congratulatory gift on behalf of our local Navy Leaguers.
CDR Moore’s next duty assignment, beginning this Spring, is at the Naval War College in Newport, RI. In the meantime he will be doing operations planning at COMSUBDEVRON12 for two months.
At the Change of Command reception at the Reunions Deli & Grill on base, Commanders Moore and Reiss shake hands in front of the ceremonial cake.
October 24-27, 2015
CDR Moore presenting appreciation gift to Navy League member Damon Runyan at El Pinto restaurant.
Crew members visiting a patient at the NM VA Hospital.
CDR Moore with North Star 4th graders.
CDR Moore with 4th graders at North Star Elementary.
LT Mike Hughes 779 Comm officer briefing freshman Midshipmen at UNM NROTC.
Master Chief Dan Wilson 779 ANAV briefing Midshipmen at UNM NROTC.
CDR Todd Moore 779 CO briefing Midshipmen at UNM NROTC.
CO and COB with 779 crew members at UNM NROTC in front of ships wheel from the battleship USS NEW MEXICO BB-40.
CDR Todd Moore with Navy League member Damon Runyan at the UNM NROTC.
Lt Mike Murphy-Master Chief Dan Wilson-CDR Todd Moore-LT GOV John Sanchez-Senior Chief Norm Clarke-PO3 Justin Stockdale-PO1 Nick Moore.
CDR Todd Moore - CO of SSN779 - presents NM LT Governor John Sanchez with laser engraved crystal replican of USS NEW MEXICO.
L-R PO3 Stockdale-MC Wilson-SC Clarke-CDR Moore-LT Hughes-PO1 Moore 10-26-15 at the NM Round House.
779 Crew in the Governor's Cabinet Room at NM State House.
October 19, 2015
Great photo sent by USS New Mexico SSN-779's second CO, CAPT Mark Prokopius, from Guam. He is now the Commanding Officer of a huge submarine tender, the USS Emory S. Land. His email below gives more detail. "Greetings from Guam. We recently tended USS Santa Fe SSN-763 here in Apra Harbor and were able to get a pretty good picture with both the ESL and Santa Fe leadership with the New Mexico flag you sent out. Look for a post on Facebook on our home page. Feel free to share."
The flag shown is one flown at the North Pole and sent to CAPT Prokopius by Dick Brown.
Welcome Home, USS New Mexico SSN-779. STS2(SS) Watts, CDR T.D. Moore, LT Wittkopp, LTJG Kubacj, LT Romeo and on top high fiving it is LCDR USN (ret) Damon Runyan, Chairman of the Navy League of the United States New Mexico Council 779 Committee. Photo courtesy of The Day, Dana Jensen, staff photographer.
Submarine Force Atlantic Public Affairs, Navy.mil, Sept 4, 2015
Photo by Michelle Runyan
GROTON, CONN. -- The Virginia-class attack submarine USS New Mexico (SSN 779) returned to its homeport at U.S. Naval Submarine Base, New London from a regularly scheduled deployment on Friday, Sept. 4, 2015.
Under the command of Cmdr. Todd Moore, New Mexico returned from the European Command (EUCOM) area of responsibility where the crew executed the Chief of Naval Operation’s Maritime Strategy in supporting national security interests and Maritime Security Operations.
“The role of the submarine is to deploy forward, remain undetected, operate behind enemy lines, and bring covert firepower and intelligence collection to bear against any potential aggressors,” said Moore. “New Mexico deployed to EUCOM, operating as an asset in supporting Commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet operations. We stood ready to perform all tasks when called upon. In conducting deployed operations like New Mexico completed, the U.S. Navy builds operational experience throughout the world, defending our homeland by projecting power globally. The crew is proud to have part of something so important.”
During the deployment steamed more than 36, 000 nautical miles, equal to circumnavigating the globe one-and-two-third times. Port visits were conducted in Haakonsvern, Norway; Rota, Spain; and Faslane, Scotland.
“In each port the crew enjoyed terrific relations with our allies,” said Moore. “The port visits provided an opportunity to interact with foreign navies, thereby building better cooperation between our countries. The crew enjoyed the many cultural experiences of each country, as well as the opportunity to relax and replenish supplies.”
During the deployment the crew of New Mexico distinguished themselves through performance and professional achievement.
“Throughout the deployment we had seven officers and 14 enlisted Sailors earn their submarine warfare qualifications,” continued Moore. “We had 15 petty officers advance in rank; two were selected for chief petty officer; and one each was selected for senior chief petty officer and master chief petty officer.
“New Mexico seems to enjoy stormy weather. We deployed during one of the many blizzards that struck Connecticut last winter. While our spouses suspect we left them only to avoid shoveling the snow, I must inform we also had our rough weather. The North Atlantic produced storms with 30-foot waves, but both the boat and crew held up well. This was the first deployment for a large portion of the crew, whose experience had been limited to short underway periods and training simulators. The long training period prior to deployment proved to be more than adequate as the crew successfully employed the ship in theater for nearly six consecutive months with virtually no lost operational time.”
The New Mexico is looking for calmer waters since they have anchored at home.
“We plan to enjoy friends and family members, make trips with loved ones, and reconnecting with those we have not seen in a long time,” finalized Moore. “We are looking forward to spending time participating in outdoor activities and basking in the sun, an activity we have been without for several months. We aim to catch up on the many TV shows, movies and sporting events that we missed, in addition to all the world events since we deployed. Following our leave period, we are looking forward to executing maintenance and training to ensure New Mexico can maintain the highest state of readiness.”
As the submarine force’s sixth Virginia-class ship, New Mexico was commissioned March 27, 2010 in Norfolk, Va. It is the second Navy vessel to be named for the 47th state.
As the most modern and sophisticated attack submarine in the world, New Mexico enables five of the six Navy maritime strategy core capabilities - sea control, power projection, forward presence, maritime security, and deterrence. The ship is a flexible, multi-mission platform designed to carry out the seven core competencies of the submarine force: anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, delivery of special operations forces, strike warfare, irregular warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and mine warfare. New Mexico can operate in both littoral and deep ocean environments and presents combatant commanders with a broad and unique range of operational capabilities.
New Mexico is 377 feet long, has a 34-foot beam, able to dive to depths greater than 800 feet and operates at speeds in excess of 25 knots submerged.
August 7, 2015
Capt George Perez, former skipper of USS New Mexico (SSN-779), assumed command of the Trident Training Facility at Kings Bay, GA on August 7, 2015. If we post this, a more appropriate title for our purposes would be
Trident Training Facility Has Change of Command STSC Roy Oro, Kings Bay Periscope, Aug 12, 2015
In a traditional observance in front of a gathering of Sailors and civilian staff, Trident Training Facility Kings Bay held a change of command ceremony, August 7.
Capt. George Perez relieved Capt. Rodney Hutton, as commanding officer of Trident Training Facility, Kings Bay. Hutton, who led the command for the last three and a half years, will transfer to the NROTC Unit at Purdue University. Capt. David A. Roberts, commanding officer, Submarine Learning Center was guest speaker for the ceremony and lauded Hutton for his role in maintaining the readiness of Sailors in the fleet.
“TTF Kings Bay is at its best in its 25-year history. Capt. Hutton’s command has been essential to all of the success at TTF. Training and caring for his people is the legacy Capt. Hutton leaves behind.”
Capt. Hutton thanked his family for their shared sacrifice and recognized each of his departments for their hard work and dedication to contributing to fleet readiness. Capt. Hutton offered one of his well-known quotes.
“Two hundred and twelve degrees won’t get you there, I need four hundred degrees and that is what we have here at Trident Training Facility.” His parting piece of advice to the audience was threefold, “Surround yourself with people who challenge you. Have a mentor in your life and let great be great.”
Capt. Perez, in his first remarks to his new command offered, “It is an honor and a privilege to take command of a training facility with the quality of TTF Kings Bay. The Submarine Force excels in training and the staff at TTF Kings Bay does it at the highest levels in the fleet. I look forward to the next three years and I am thankful for the opportunity.”
June 27, 2015
North Pole Flag for Hiroshi Miyamura
Story written by Dick Brown; photo courtesy of Donna Brown
The Navy League of the United States New Mexico Council USS New Mexico Committee presented a New Mexico state flag to Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Hiroshi "Hershey" Miyamura of Gallup, NM. The flag, accompanied by a certificate, is very special as it was flown from USS New Mexico (SSN-779) when she surfaced at the geographic North Pole last year. The certificate was signed by the submarine’s Commanding Officer, CDR Todd Moore, USN.
Hershey attended New Mexico's naming ceremony on December 6, 2004, where he was presented an admiral ballcap by Secretary of the Navy Gordon England. Hershey was born in Gallup, has lived there all his life, lost his wife Terry of 66 years last year, and is still going strong. He is a WWII and Korean War veteran and a huge hometown hero.
During the Korean War, a fierce attack by Chinese forces threatened to overrun the position of Hershey’s Army unit. American forces were grossly outnumbered. As squad leader, Corporal Miyamura shouted, “You guys get out of here. I’ll hold them off for as long as I can.” He killed 10 enemy soldiers in hand-to-hand combat. He then opposed the next assault using bayonet and fire from two machine guns, killing more than 50 enemy soldiers. Severely wounded, Hershey continued fighting until he ran out of ammunition and was taken prisoner. He was a POW for over two years and news of his pending MOH award remained top secret until he was finally released. If the enemy knew he was destined for our nation's highest honor, he would have been killed without mercy.
That Korean winter of 1950-1951 saw subzero temperatures, icy winds and deep snow. It seems fitting then that Hershey be presented with a flag that had flown under similar frigid conditions. That flag and certificate will be part of a permanent exhibit at Hiroshi Miyamura High School in Gallup.
The courage, leadership, patriotism and sacrifice that Hershey displayed in the Korean War was way above and beyond the call of duty. After the war, President Dwight Eisenhower presented the Medal of Honor to Hershey in a White House ceremony. The President said, “I’m a little nervous, I have not done this before.” Hershey responded, “This is my first time too!” Last year he received the Korean Medal of Honor! What a great American!
Side note: Hershey and many other MOH recipients as well as Navajo Code Talkers share a place of honor in the lobby of Gallup’s Comfort Suites. The motel, under the management of Air Force veteran Ken Riege, is a 4-time winner of the company’s platinum award for excellence and is part of the reason Gallup was named the most patriotic city in America. Ken often accompanies Hershey on out-of-state events and continues to be of great assistance to Hershey, who turns 90 in October.
July 7, 2015
New Mexico Flag Flown at North Pole on Display at La Posta
story written by Dick Brown
A very special New Mexico state flag that flew from the nuclear submarine USS New Mexico (SSN-779) when she surfaced through the ice at the geographic North Pole in March 2014 is now on permanent display in the entrance hallway of La Posta de Mesilla Restaurant and Cantina in Mesilla, NM.
The flag display is compliments of the submarine’s skipper, CDR Todd Moore, and the Albuquerque-based Navy League of the United States New Mexico Council, the home support team for the submarine. The display includes a Certificate of Authenticity, signed by the Commanding Officer, and two photos, one showing several crew members holding up a larger flag while standing on the ice nearly two miles above the Arctic Ocean floor, the other with nearly a third of the ship’s company posed with a USS New Mexico brow banner.
Several years ago, after a statewide contest, the crew of the USS New Mexico named their galley after the historic La Posta de Mesilla Restaurant and Cantina. “It has truly been an honor and privilege to be associated with the USS New Mexico and her dedicated crew. The flag is a welcomed addition to other items displayed from the USS New Mexico, including a precision scale model,” according to Tom Hutchinson, a retired Navy Captain, who along with his wife Jerean, own the historic, world-renown establishment. USA Today placed La Posta on its list of the top ten Mexican restaurants in the nation.
“When not deployed, we try to provide the officers and crew with “care packages” and our cuisine/chile from La Posta. We also carry many items from the submarine in our Gift Shop, including ball caps, coffee mugs, shot glasses, and USS New Mexico baseballs,” stated Jerean.
“Every couple of years, we look forward to hosting a few of the submarine galley’s culinary specialists at our restaurant, providing them the opportunity to work side-by-side with our kitchen staff and learn many of our recipes. My staff always looks forward to the opportunity to work with these young patriots!” explained Tom.
Tom and Jerean are very proud of La Posta Abajo del Mar – La Posta Beneath the Sea - the galley and crews mess aboard the submarine. Its décor is pure Southwest and every other Tuesday is Fajita Tuesday. With culinary specialists trained in New Mexico cuisine at La Posta in Mesilla, it is a very special sea-going restaurant. Also very special is the strong bond between the restaurant and our undersea warriors.
Damon Runyan, LCDR USN(Ret.)
June 24, 2015
Letter to Petty Officer Stuble from Damon Runyan, LCDR USN(Ret.)
Navy League of the United States, New Mexico Council
Chairman, USS New Mexico Committee
It was indeed an honor for me to be able to speak to the crowd last night in Old Town Albuquerque at the performance of the Navy Band Southwest Brass Band. I really enjoyed meeting each of the band members and to give each a USS NEW MEXICO ball cap to remember your visit here and show the NBSW that can count on the Navy League of New Mexico. It is always great for us to see Navy uniforms here in New Mexico.
Please thank each member of NBSW and LT Hoffman to be able to enjoy your lively music and the presence of active duty guys in a state without too much Navy presence. You had a photographer present and he promised to send me several of the photos he took last night. Attached are two photos I took. Best of luck on the remainder of your trip to New Mexico.
May 28, 2015
Navy League of the United States New Mexico Council 779 Committee Chairman Damon Runyan presents a North Pole Flag and Certificate to CAPT Rob Dain, former CO (first skipper) of the USS New Mexico SSN-779. Rob's father, Dave Dain is on the far left. Presentation took place at Dick Brown's home in the Manzano Mountains.
Story and Photograph by Rick Carver
On Thursday, April 9,2015, a ceremony took place honoring the Bataan Death March. Unveiled inside the Bataan Building is a display of some artifacts from the Bataan March. These artifacts came from the basement of the Bataan Museum in Santa Fe. Also unveiled and on display is a model of the USS New Mexico SSN-779 which also had been stored in the Bataan Museum basement. The USS NEW MEXICO model finally has a home!
Secretary Jack Fox, New Mexico Department of Veterans Services, and Navy League New Mexico Council Vice President Greg Scargall.
January 02, 2015
"The letters you see above are from 3rd Grade North Star Elementary School students and 4th and 5th Grade students from Southwest Learning Center, all in Albuquerque, New Mexico. A representative from the New Mexico Council, retired LCDR Damon Runyan went to both schools, on 13 October and 5 November, and presented details about how the USS NEW MEXICO got its name and its official crest, facts about how the submarine works, and information about how the crew survives beneath the sea. The enthusiastic students then wrote letters or designed Christmas cards for the crew members onboard USS NEW MEXICO and that package was forwarded to the boat at its homeport in Groton, Connecticut. Then just before Christmas, a package arrived here in Albuquerque from the Chief of the Boat, Master Chief Steve Fritzler, with individual responses to those letters and cards from crew members of all ranks and responsibilities that serve our Navy aboard this great vessel. Those responses will be hand-delivered to the students shortly after they return to class after the Holiday break."
Here are the Crew's responses to the students letters.
Watch the USS NEW MEXICO Commissioning! The USS NEW MEXICO was commissioned on 27 March 2010 at the Norfolk Naval Base and is now officially a member of the fleet of the United States Navy. The hugely successful commissioning events were a result of the tremendous financial and in-kind support provided by the citizens of New Mexico and many other states.
As the host state, New Mexico has a continuing obligation to support the crew of USS NEW MEXICO. The SSN 779 Committee, a part of the Navy League's New Mexico Council, has taken on a continuing effort to raise funds and organize in-kind support for the SSN 779 crew.
Some projects the SSN 779 Committee is organizing support for in 2010 are:
- Decoration of the Crew's Mess
- Replacement of Passageway Curtains with New Mexico style fabrics
- Host the new Commanding Officer in New Mexico