A Navy man originally from southwest Minnesota will realize his lifelong dream of commanding a ship in the United States Navy today.
Commander Paul Lee of Bremerton, Washington will take command of the USS Buffalo, a Los Angeles Class Fast Attack submarine. Lee will command a crew of 142, including 14 officers. Lee grew up on the family farm near Degraff, north of Willmar.
Lee enlisted in The Navy in 1989 and served on the submarine the USS Scranton. He then attended Old Dominion University, recieved his commission, and served on three other ships before being given the command of The Buffalo. Lee says it’s fairly rare for an enlisted man to work his way up the ranks to ship commander.
The Buffalo was first commissioned in 1983 and Lee will be its final commander. He and his crew will begin dis-assembling the ship in the coming months, and in 18 months they will be released back into the fleet. Lee isn’t sure where his career path will lead after that. A ceremony for Lee takes place at the Trident submarine base in Bremerton Thursday.
His parents will be there along with the man who recruited him, Ole Olson of Willmar.
(JP Cola, KWLM)