WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- After three years of building and testing, a week of celebrations and the largest commissioning ceremony a Navy destroyer has ever seen, the USS Gravely is ready for action. It was a day rich with tradition, celebration and gratitude. The ship's namesake Vice Adm. Samuel Lee Gravely was a man of many firsts.
"It just makes me feel so good to know that we were somewhere together doing something to serve our country, and that's just wonderful," said Alvin Humes, a fellow African-American Navy veteran, who served at the same time as Adm. Gravely. Anything I can do as far as my country's concerned or to be a witness to history, it's just tremendous."
The admiral broke through barriers and opened doors, leading the way for all races and genders to serve. His sacrifice, service and success will forever be remembered by the USS Gravely crew and its sponsor, Adm. Gravely's wife Alma.
"He was a good husband, a good father, loved the Navy and required that his ships were clean, fast, but loved all of the personnel that was on there, and as far as I know, they all loved him," Alma Gravely said after the commissioning.
The ship's captain Cmdr. Douglas Kunzman has a special relationship with Mrs. Gravely.
"She is the heart and soul of this crew," Kunzman said. "So when you wrap the tradition around Mrs. Gravely, the ship's sponsor, and you bring all that together, to this day, to this event, it’s an amazing day, it's an amazing event, and it's a once in a lifetime event, and it's also a very historic event."
Kunzman promised to live up to the man and the motto: First to Conquer.
About 7,000 civilians, active duty servicemen and women and veterans came out to the commissioning. Monday afternoon, Wilmington will say goodbye to Guided Missile Destroyer 107 as it heads to its home in Norfolk, VA.