An ocean away, Fort Wayne native Brandon Parrish serves in U.S. navy, lives in Europe, supports NATO mission

Petty Officer 2nd Class Brandon Parrish is a damage controlman 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.

Parrish is responsible for making sure the ship’s firefighting and damage control equipment is ready and working in the event of a fire or if the ship starts to take on water.

Parrish credits success in the Navy with lessons learned growing up in Fort Wayne.

“I learned general respect for other people,” said Parrish. “In the Navy, you get people from all backgrounds and once the uniform is on, they are all your family.”

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 in to 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 Parrish, who has military ties with family members who have previously served. Parrish is honored to carry on that family tradition.

“My father served in the Air Force,” said Parrish. “I decided on my own to join the Navy.”While serving in the Navy may present many challenges, Parrish […]

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