Donald Kirby Ross was born in Beverly,
Kansas, on December 8, 1910. He enlisted in the Navy in Denver, Colorado, on
June 3, 1929, graduated company honor man from basic training, San Diego,
completed Machinist Mate School, Norfolk, VA first in his class and was
assigned to USS Henderson on a China service run.
While serving in hospital ship Relief, Ross saw his first action (with the
Marines) in Nicaragua in 1931. Advancing through the rates on the minesweeper
USS Brant, destroyer USS Simpson and cruiser USS Minneapolis, he attained the
rank of Warrant Officer and was assigned to USS Nevada (BB-36).
It was on USS Nevada that Ross distinguished himself on December 7, 1941 by
assuming responsibility to furnish power under untenable conditions, to get
the ship underway - the only battleship to do so during the Japanese attack.
"When his station in the forward dynamo room became almost untenable due
to smoke, steam and heat," reads Ross' citation, "he forced his men
to leave that station and performed all the duties himself until blinded and
unconscious. Upon being rescued and resuscitated, he returned and secured the
forward dynamo room and proceeded to the after dynamo room, where he was
later again rendered unconscious by exhaustion. Upon recovering
consciousness, he returned to his station, where he remained until directed
to abandon it."
Ross was presented the Medal of Honor by Admiral Chester Nimitz on April 18,
1942, and was commissioned an Ensign in June 1942. Later in the war, he also
participated in the landings at Normandy and Southern France.
Ross retired in
July 1956 as a Captain, after 27 years of consecutive active duty aboard
every type of surface ship then afloat.
Making his home in
Washington State after leaving the Navy, Captain Ross was active in farm life
and community affairs, and in perpetuating the memory of the Pearl Harbor
attack, which he described as "not a story about a defeat. It's a story
about a job well done". He attended 50th Anniversary ceremonies at Pearl
Harbor on 7 December 1991, during which a memorial was dedicated to his old
ship, USS Nevada.
Captain Donald K.
Ross died at Bremerton, Washington, on 27 May 1992. His ashes were scattered
at sea over the USS Nevada.
Medal of Honor citation of Lieutenant
Commander Donald Kirby Ross:
printed in the official publication "Medal of Honor, 1861-1949, The
Navy", page 252):
distinguished conduct in the line of his profession, extraordinary courage
and disregard of his own life during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor,
Territory of Hawaii, by Japanese Forces on 7 December 1941. When his station
in the forward dynamo room of the U.S.S. Nevada became almost untenable due
to smoke, steam and heat, Lieutenant Commander Ross forced his men to leave
that station and performed all the duties himself until blinded and
unconscious. Upon being rescued and resuscitated, he returned and secured the
forward dynamo room and proceeded to the after dynamo room where he was later
again rendered unconscious by exhaustion. Again recovering consciousness he
returned to his station where he remained until directed to abandon it."
ROSS' keel was laid in April 1995 in
Pascagoula, Mississippi, and she was christened one year later by her sponsor
Helen Lou Ross, widow of the ship's namesake. ROSS' crew of plankowners moved
aboard in April 1997 and sailed her to Galveston, Texas, where she was
commissioned on June 28, 1997.
After commissioning, ROSS completed Combat Systems Ship Qualification Trials,
an Inter Deployment Training Cycle, and left on her maiden deployment March
26, 1999 as part of the THEODORE ROOSEVELT Battle Group. ROSS' first
deployment included Tomahawk missile strikes in support of Operation ALLIED
FORCE in Kosovo, the first-ever combat operation in NATO history. ROSS was
awarded the Battle Efficiency "E" for calendar year 1999 in
recognition of her outstanding performance throughout her work-ups and during
ROSS returned to Norfolk, Virginia in September 1999 and, following a
maintenance period, deployed as the flagship for Commander, Carrier Group
EIGHT, in support of Exercise BALTOPS 2000 in April 2000. This exercise
featured over 50 ships from 14 nations. During BALTOPS, ROSS made port visits
to France, Sweden, and Germany.
On September 11, 2001 ROSS deployed on three-hours notice in order to defend
the United States' eastern seaboard in response to the terrorist attacks on
New York and Washington, D.C. ROSS acted for a time as Regional Air Defense
Commander, in support of Commander, North American Air Defense Command. ROSS
was also recognized that year with the prestigious Arizona Memorial Trophy
for being the most combat ready ship in the U. S. Navy.
Just weeks after the attacks, on October 17, 2001 ROSS again deployed, this
time to the Mediterranean Sea in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. While
deployed, ROSS played a crucial role on the global war on terrorism and
provided much needed air defense and strike capabilities. Returning from
deployment in April 16, 2002, ROSS maintained her combat readiness by
participating in numerous exercises, including BALTOPS 2003, and completed
the inter-deployment training cycle to prepare for her next deployment.
On April 30, 2004, ROSS left Norfolk, Virginia on her third deployment in
support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The ship completed four months of
operations in the FIFTH and SIXTH Fleet areas of responsibility, conducting
Maritime Interdiction Operations and participating in the ceremonies
surrounding the 50th commemoration of the Allied assault at Normandy.
Shortly after her return in August 2004, ROSS commenced an accelerated basic
training cycle and entered Metro Machine Shipyard for her first docking
maintenance period in March 2005. She emerged in June, and then spent the
summer pursuing the balance of her warfare certifications. In September 2005,
she was selected to replace USS THOMAS S. GATES as flagship for UNITAS 47-06,
after a significant portion of GATES' crew was displaced in the aftermath of
Hurricane Katrina. With only two weeks’ notice, ROSS put to sea for a
two-month deployment embarking Commander, Destroyer Squadron SIX and sailing
to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the multinational exercise. ROSS returned on
Thanksgiving Day 2005, and then began preparations for another overseas
movement, departing Norfolk in February 2006 to participate in NEPTUNE
WARRIOR 061 in the waters surrounding Scotland.
Upon return to Norfolk, ROSS’ crew has only one month to prepare for a
six-month deployment in support of Operation ACTIVE ENDEAVOUR in the
Mediterranean Sea. ROSS deployed on May 1, 2006 as part of Standing NATO
Maritime Group TWO (SNMG 2). During the deployment ROSS conducted more than
850 queries of merchant shipping, over 40 helicopter landings, and traveled
more than 45,000 nautical miles. ROSS returned to Norfolk November 6, 2006
having spent 10 of the past 14 months at sea.
2007 began with ROSS preparing for a scheduled February INSURV (Board of
Inspection and Survey). That inspection was moved to August and in April ROSS
entered BAE Shipyard for a two and a half month Selected Restricted
Availability (SRA). During the SRA ROSS received the Tactical Tomahawk WCS
(TTWCS), berthing modifications, SHF SATCOM, and the crew performed major
preservation work throughout the ship.
In 2007 ROSS completed major Engineering inspections as well as INSURV. On
February 20th, 2008 ROSS deployed to the FIFTH and SIXTH Fleet areas of
responsibility for a 5 1/2 month deployment in support of the Global War on
Terrorism. On June 28, 2008 ROSS celebrated its 11th birthday, having been
placed in commission 11 years earlier.
On November 12,
2009, the Missile Defense Agency announced that Ross would be upgraded during
fiscal 2012 to RIM-161 Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) capability in order to
function as part of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System.