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Commander says community sowed seeds of his success

October 02, 2009|By JANET HEIM

HAGERSTOWN -- A Hagerstown native who recently took command of the destroyer USS Laboon credits his upbringing here for the success he has with a career in the U.S. Navy.

Cmdr. Donald J. Donegan, who assumed command of the destroyer June 11 while at anchor in Taranto, Italy, said in an e-mail that growing up in "a positive, supportive community" with a strong educational system -- from Fountaindale Elementary School to St. Mary's Catholic School to St. Maria Goretti High School -- "made a difference in my whole career."

Donegan, 39, is a 1988 graduate of St. Maria Goretti and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1992 with a bachelor of science in history.

He is also a graduate of the American Military University with a master of arts in military studies (naval warfare).

The son of Dennis and Carolyn Donegan of Hagerstown, he was involved in St. Ann's Catholic Church, YMCA activities and participated in sports, including soccer and swimming.

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"Obviously, we're very proud of his successes and accomplishments. It's quite an accomplishment to be a commander of a destroyer, a $1 billion ship," Dennis Donegan said.

Dennis Donegan said his son was always focused and goal-oriented. It was during a visit to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis at age 12 that he announced to his parents that he wanted to attend the academy and become a career naval officer, a goal from which he never deviated, his father said.

"It was a goal of his to have command at sea and he's accomplished that long-deserved goal," Dennis Donegan said.

"I cannot imagine a greater privilege than being given the opportunity to command a U.S. Navy ship, and there is nothing quite like leading sailors on deployment and being part of our nation's Global Engagement Force," Donald Donegan wrote in the e-mail. "Laboon and her crew have been enormously successful on deployment and in home waters, and I will do everything I can to continue that standard of operational excellence."

USS Laboon is a guided missile destroyer with a crew of 23 officers, 24 chief petty officers and 291 enlisted personnel.

The support of his family, including his parents and his brother and sister-in-law, makes it possible for him to continue to serve successfully in the U.S. Navy, Donald Donegan wrote.

Cmdr. Donegan's awards include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Navy and six Marine Corps Commendation Medals, the Joint Staff Achievement Medal, the Navy and three Marine Corps Achievement Medals, and various unit, campaign and service medals.

Donegan and his wife, Amy, reside in Millersville, Md., with their children Thomas, Angela and Theresa. His wife graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1992, was a commander in the Navy and is now a member of the inactive Reserves.

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More details about the USS Laboon and Cmdr. Donald J. Donegan's biography can be found at www.laboon.navy.mil.

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