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Waukegan native serves nation abroad in Spain

ROTA, Spain – A Waukegan High School graduate and Waukegan native is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, USS Donald Cook.

YN2 Daniel Rivera is aboard the forward-deployed Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer operating out of Rota, Spain. Donald Cook is one of four destroyers homeported in Rota.

A yeoman is responsible for the human resources for all sailors, both enlisted and officers.

“I like being able to start the policies on the ship,” Rivera said.

Commissioned in 1998, the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer Donald Cook is 509-feet long; the length of more than three football fields. The ship is named after Vietnam War prisoner of war who died in captivity.

Donald Cook is a tactical multi-mission surface combatant capable of conducting anti-air submarine surface warfare in conjunction with being outfitted with Aegis ballistic missile defense capabilities. BMD enables the ship to conduct long-range surveillance, tracking, and engagement of short and medium-range ballistic missiles.

“Donald Cook is Sixth Fleet’s premier forward deployed unit with an extremely high operational tempo,” said Cmdr. Timothy Moore, commanding officer aboard USS Donald Cook. “My sailors continue to impress me with how hard they work, the pride they possess and the dedication they show day in and day out in the execution of their duties. Being able to command a ship with such a great group of professional sailors is an enduring honor and a privilege.”

About 30 officers and 300 enlisted men and women make up the ship’s company. Their jobs are highly specialized and keep each part of the cruiser running smoothly. The jobs range from maintaining engines to handling weaponry and everything in between.

“I like this command because it has brought me to a part of the world I’ve never been to,” Rivera said. “On this ship, you feel the waves, shoot the weapons--we do everything!”

Although it is difficult for most people to imagine living on a ship, the challenging living conditions build strong fellowship among the crew. The crew is highly motivated and quickly adapt to changing conditions. It is a busy life of specialized work, watches, and drills.

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Rivera and other Donald Cook sailors know they are part of a legacy that will be last beyond their lifetimes.

“Serving the Navy gives me the opportunity to defend my country,” Rivera said.

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