A St. Louis native and 2014 Hazelwood Central High School graduate is serving in the U.S. Navy forward-deployed aboard the guided missile destroyer, USS Barry.

Petty officer 2nd Class Devante Mitchell is a boatswain’s mate aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer operating out of Yokosuka, Japan. The ship routinely deploys to protect alliances, enhance partnerships, and be ready to respond if a natural disaster occurs in the region.

A Navy boatswain’s mate is responsible for maintaining the exterior surfaces of the ships, deck handling and equipment, handling cargo and operating small boats.

Mitchell is proud to serve in the Pacific and fondly recalls memories of St. Louis.

“In St. Louis, I learned to stay true to myself and always remember where I came from,” said Mitchell.

Moments like that makes it worth serving around the world ready at all times to defend America’s interests. With more than 50 percent of the world’s shipping tonnage and a third of the world’s crude oil passing through the region, the United States has historic and enduring interests in this part of the world. The Navy’s presence in Yokosuka is part of that long-standing commitment, explained Navy officials.

“Being forward deployed has helped me make rank and it is good for junior sailors’ first tour,” said Mitchell.

Mitchell is also proud of winning Bluejacket of the Quarter, a Navy award given to those who stand out for their accomplishments.

Destroyers are warships that provide multi-mission offensive and defensive capabilities. They are 510 feet long and armed with tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles, Standard Missile-3 and newer variants of the SM missile family, advanced gun systems and close-in gun systems. 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 precondition for everything else the Navy does. It cannot project power, secure the commons, deter aggression, or assure allies without the ability to control the seas when and where desired.

USS Barry has anti-aircraft capability armed with long range missiles intended for air defense to counter the threat to friendly forces posed by manned aircraft, anti-ship, cruise and tactical ballistic missiles.

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied-upon assets, Mitchell and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.

“The Navy helped me to mature and has changed my mindset on things,” said Mitchell. “Serving in the Navy gives me the feeling that I am protecting others while they sleep comfortably at home.”

Seventh Fleet, which is celebrating its 75th year in 2018, spans more than 124 million square kilometers, stretching from the International Date Line to the India/Pakistan border; and from the Kuril Islands in the North to the Antarctic in the South. Seventh Fleet’s area of operation encompasses 36 maritime countries and 50 percent of the world’s population with between 50-70 U.S. ships and submarines, 140 aircraft, and approximately 20,000 Sailors in the 7th Fleet.

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