Upon commissioning from the University of Mississippi in 1974, I was assigned as the gunnery officer in the USS Leahy (DLG-16). She was the lead ship of her class and known in the day as a “double ender.” She was equipped with terrier missile batteries both fore and aft, and her sleek lines spoke of strength and power. Her Joint Army/Navy/Air Force Publication call sign of “Defender” was a fitting tribute to this fine ship-of-the-line.
While under seasoned hand of her commanding officer Captain (later Rear Admiral) Alexander M. Sinclair Jr., a former white hat, and both a diesel boat and frigate CO, the Leahy was designated as “Top Gun” of the Atlantic Fleet. This was based on her unbroken string of Battle Efficiency “E’s” and her prowess during numerous successful missile engagements in the annual Atlantic Fleet Readiness Exercises.