Lassen (DDG 82) Commissioned In Florida

The newest guided-missile Aegis destroyer, Lassen (DDG 82) christened on November 6, 1999, was commissioned into the Fleet in Tampa Bay, Fla., on April 21, 2001. The technologically advanced Aegis warship carries the namesake of Commander Clyde Everett Lassen USN (Ret), a native of Fort Myers, Fla. CDR Lassen earned the Congressional Medal of Honor for his courageous night rescue of two downed Phantom F4 avaitors while commander of a Search and Rescue helicopter in Vietnam. On June 19,1968, Lt. Lassen, flying a UH-2 Seapite, embarked to rescue two downed aviators whose plane had been shot down deep in North Vietnam.

After several failed attempts to reach the aviators under heavy enemy fire and darkness, Lt. Lassen turned on the helo's landings lights, despite the danger of revealing his position to the enemy. The maneuver worked, as the aviators made their way to the helicopter, which was bullet-riddled and low on fuel. Lt. Lassen evaded further antiaircraft fire and landed safely onboard a guided-missile destroyer, with only five minutes of fuel left.

Lt. Lassen became the first naval aviator to be awarded the Medal of Honor for bravery in Vietnam. CDR Lassen, who served 21 years, died of cancer in 1994. During the ceremony, Zeke Burns, the downed Phantom jet navigator, delivered a message to the Lassen's captain. Commander Sean E. O' Connor and the crew. "No one kept the faith better than Clyde Lassen, and 1 believe he keeps it still," said Burns, of Virginia Beach, Va. The ship's Sponsor are Mrs.

Linda B. Lassen, wife of the late CDR Lassen, and Barbara O. Pilling, wife of Admiral Donald Pilling USN (Ret).

The USS Lassen is the fourth of the Flight IIA variant of the Burke class destroyer and the second built by Ingalls at Pascagoula, Miss.

Other stories from June 2001 issue


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