By Ensign Will Drummond
ATG Mayport PAO

Afloat Training Group (ATG) Mayport’s new Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Adam Aycock delivered the keynote speech Friday night at USS Willard Keith (DD 775) annual ship reunion.
Willard Keith is a World War II Destroyer escort. The reunion was held at the Crowne Plaza in downtown Jacksonville.
“We were honored to have a fellow Destroyerman currently serving come speak to us,” said retired Capt. Jay O’Connell, former executive officer of DD 775, who serves as president and host of the event. 
Aycock’s speech highlighted how today’s Navy is ever changing with technology; adapting to the world around it, but still remembering and honoring the past. 
“Technology enables the Navy to accomplish its missions with fewer ships and Sailors,” Aycock said. “Unmanned helicopters now fly off the decks of frigates and engineering plants can be run by computers. But the Navy’s strength will always rely on the fighting spirit of those on the deckplates…All Sailors recall the heroes of our past and wear the uniform with pride.” 
 “I sure am glad I don’t have to follow up that! That was great,” said Joe Mitchell, who served aboard DD 775 as a lieutenant junior grade.
Along with Aycock, Gunner’s Mate 1st Class Amy Hamilton, ATG’s Sailor of the Year, and Chief Logistics Specialist Geordane Deleon proudly represented the Mayport basin and ATG. Attending the event was an assortment of Sailors who served aboard Willard Keith ranging from 1942 to 1972, including a Pearl Harbor survivor. After dinner, Willard Keith board of directors shared the ship’s history and accomplishments with ATG’s Sailors. 
“Attending USS Willard Keith (DD-775) reunion this past Friday was an awesome experience and an eye opener,” Deleon said. “It was an honor for me to meet some of the heroes from our earlier Navy, who have set the path for what we are today. The ceremony was heart touching, especially the recognition of fallen heroes. I now have a different view of what camaraderie really is. Seeing prior Sailors from different parts of the country come together to keep history alive is just humbling to me. I’m glad I was offered the opportunity to spend some time with such an elite group of citizens; would be glad to do it again.”

Photo by Ensign Will Drummond
ATG Mayport Chief Logistics Specialist Geordane Deleon poses for a picture with former crewmembers of USS Willard Keith during the ship’s annual reunion. Pictured from left retired Capt. Jay O’Connell, Deleon, Mary Lou O’Connell, Jerry Hansen , and Joe Mitchell
Photo by Ensign Will Drummond
New ATG Mayport Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Adam Aycock speaks at USS Willard Keith annual ship reunion
Present Honors The Past At Ship Reunion.