Tuesday, May 24 , 2016, 2:17 am | Mostly Cloudy 55º

Guided-Missile Destroyer USS Milius Arriving in Santa Barbara on Thursday

Public tours available; commander and crew to be guests at Pierre Claeyssens Military Ball

By William M. Macfadyen, Noozhawk Publisher | @noozhawk |

The guided-missile destroyer USS Milius (DDG 69) will drop anchor off Santa Barbara on Thursday for a five-day port call. Public tours of the ship will be offered beginning Sunday.

The ship’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Nicholie Bufkin, and her crew will be attending Saturday’s 16th Annual Pierre Claeyssens Military Ball sponsored by the Pierre Clayssens Veterans’ Museum & Library and the Santa Barbara Navy League, said Patricia Westberg, the Navy League’s public affairs officer.

Westberg said the Milius crew will also participate in Veterans Day events Friday and tour the Reagan Ranch west of Santa Barbara.

Free public tours of the ship will be available Nov. 13 and 14, Westberg said. Reservations are recommended and can be made at Sea Landing, 301 W. Cabrillo Blvd., or by calling Sea Landing at 805.963.3564.

The Milius is scheduled to depart Santa Barbara on Nov. 15.

Bufkin is the first female commanding officer on the Milius, an Arleigh Burke-class AEGIS guided-missile destroyer with a crew of 281. Prior to her command, she was executive officer aboard the USS Mobile Bay (CG 53) from 2006 to 2007 and was flag secretary for Carrier Strike Group 9 (Abraham Lincoln Strike Group) in 2004 and 2005. She previously served as operations officer aboard the USS Anzio (CG 68) and the USS Peterson (DD 969), from 2000 to 2003.

The USS Milius is named after Cmdr. Paul Milius, a Navy pilot shot down in the Vietnam War. When Milius’ plane was hit by enemy fire during a mission over Laos, he ordered his crew to bail out while he maintained control of the aircraft. All of the crew was rescued, but Milius was never found. He was classified as missing in action and then classified as presumed killed in action. Milius was awarded the Navy Cross posthumously.

The 16th Annual Military Ball will feature World War II bombardier and former prisoner of war Louis Zamperini as the keynote speaker. The subject of the best-selling book, Unbroken, Zamperini, now 94, is a former U.S. Olympic athlete whose B-24 was shot down in the South Pacific in 1943. He and two crew mates were the only survivors and the trio floated for 47 days in two rafts without food or water. They eventually were captured by Japanese armed forces and imprisoned for two years in Japanese POW camps.

The Military Ball starts at 5 p.m. Saturday at Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort, 633 E. Cabrillo Blvd. Click here for more information or to RSVP.

The Santa Barbara Council of the Navy League supports Navy service members and those of other U.S. armed forces, including adoption of 15 units from all sections of the military. The Navy League works closely with the crews aboard the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN76), the USS Stockdale (DDG106) and the USS California (SSN 781).

Noozhawk publisher Bill Macfadyen can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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