Pegher to command Yokosuka-based destroyer USS Stethem


Pegher to command Yokosuka-based destroyer USS Stethem

by: Tony Raap | .
Stripes Japan | .
published: April 26, 2016

PITTSBURGH (Tribune News Service) — Doug Pegher wasn't sure what he wanted to do after college.

He spent four years pouring concrete, doing carpentry work and tending bar, none of which he was crazy about.

So he joined the Navy.

“One day, I was looking at my life and the trajectory I was on. I looked at my boss and said, ‘This is not the career for me,' ” said Pegher, 44, who grew up in the North Hills and graduated from Pine-Richland High School in 1989.

He has spent more than 18 years in the Navy. Next month, he will become commanding officer of the USS Stethem, a guided missile destroyer based in Yokosuka, Japan.

He will oversee a crew of 300 sailors and officers. The 505-foot-long warship is armed with Tomahawk missiles and performs missions throughout the Pacific and Indian oceans.

“It's an honor to be afforded this opportunity to lead a great ship and a great crew and to serve our nation,” Pegher said. “I'm looking forward to it. It's sort of the culmination of 18 years of hard work.”

He took a roundabout way into the military. After a semester at Virginia Tech, he transferred to Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, where he graduated in 1993 with a bachelor's degree in psychology.

After college, he sent his resume to a lot of different places and found “there are not a lot of good-paying jobs if you only have a bachelor's degree in psychology,” he said.

He supported himself by working odd jobs. His life didn't seem to be going anywhere, so he decided to enlist.

“It was quite a surprise, actually,” said his mother, Pat Pegher. “One day he came home and he said, ‘I joined the Navy today.' ”

Until then, he never expressed interest in the Navy. None of his relatives had belonged to the military other than an uncle who served in the Army during the Vietnam War.

“I just looked at him and said, ‘I hope you're not going in as a grunt because you do have a college education,' ” his mother said.


Pegher completed officer candidate school in Pensacola, Fla. His first ship tour was aboard the USS Mount Whitney, a command ship based in Norfolk, Va.

He also has served as a navigator for the USS Monterey, a guided missile cruiser; chief engineer for the USS Roosevelt, a destroyer; and staff material officer for Commander Destroyer Squadron 22, a fleet of destroyers.

In his most recent shore duty, he was stationed at U.S. Northern Command in Colorado Springs, where he worked in the homeland ballistic missile defense division.

From there, he was sent to Japan, where he served as executive officer, or second in command, of the USS Stethem for a year and a half. He currently is stationed with Destroyer Squadron 15, also based in Japan. He will become commander of the USS Stethem on May 12.

He said the Navy has been a good fit for him because it appeals to his sense of adventure and challenges him mentally. He enjoys the camaraderie that develops among crew members during a deployment and feels that he is giving back to his country.

“I've been to just about every major port in the Mediterranean. I've been to ports in the Middle East. I've been to ports in the Western Pacific. I've been to places that most people will never get an opportunity to see in their lifetime, and I feel very fortunate that my job has allowed me to do that,” said Pegher, who lives on a naval base in Japan with his wife, Carmi, and their three children.

“I'm fortunate that I came around to the Navy, and I've had a fantastic career up to this point. I wouldn't go back and trade any of it.”

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