By Robert Stoneback
The Danville News
A Danville graduate has set sail in a new Navy battleship commemorating the lives lost in the Sept. 11 attacks on the Pentagon.
Travis McCarthy, who has been serving in the Navy for the past eight years, will serve as secretary on the USS Arlington, one of a trio of ships that have been commissioned by the Navy to honor those lost in the 2001 terrorist attacks. The USS New York was the first of the battleships completed and the PCU Somerset, named for the county where Flight 93 crashed, is currently under construction.
Out of the three 9/11 memorial ships, the Arlington is the only one with an onboard room dedicated to a memorial for the victims. In addition, the commanding officer of the Arlington has pieces of steel from the Pentagon wreckage on his desk.
The San Antonio-class ship is 684-feet in length, with a crew of 360 sailors.
Travis’ parents, Bill and Sandra McCarthy, of Danville, attended the Arlington’s commissioning ceremony at its homeport in Norfolk, Va., on April 6. “There were at least 1000 people there. It was just overwhelming,” Sandra said.
Senior officers and admirals spoke at the ceremony, as did the Governor of Virginia. Also in attendance were former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his wife, Joyce.
The McCarthys and their son got the chance to meet the Rumsfelds at the ceremony and thanked them for showing their support.
“They were very nice,” said Sandra. Bill, himself a 21-year veteran of the Army, was wearing his American Legion Post 40 hat when he met Rumsfeld, which the former defense secretary noticed. “He (Rumsfeld) was really thrilled about that,” Sandra said. She said Bill is thinking about sending him one of his own.
On board the ship, Travis, a member of Danville High School’s class of 1999, is responsible for the commanding officer’s personal correspondence, the ship’s rules and regulations and is the authority for all shipboard administrative functions. Previous deployments include Iraq and Kuwait. Travis has achieved the naval rank of Yeomen and has earned two Navy Achievement Medals as well as the Antarctic Service Medal for participating in the annual resupply of the National Science Foundation at McMurdo Station in Antarctica.
Bill said the Sept. 11 attacks were a determining factor in Travis’ decision to serve, making his deployment on the Arlington all the more appropriate. “I’m extremely proud of his accomplishments and his drive. He’s driven to do well,” he said of his son.
“He came a long way,” said Sandra. “We’re proud of him.”