U.S. Navy ships bearing the name USS Cleveland have a long and illustrious history. Four ships have been named after the city of Cleveland, with the latest still under construction in Wisconsin. The residents of Cleveland have a lot of plans for the ship throughout its service life, and even the beloved Cleveland Browns NFL team will be a part of it.
Cleveland Browns’ starting guard Wyatt Teller is the team’s nominee for the NFL’s 2022 Salute to Service Award presented by USAA. He’s not an Ohio native, and he was drafted by the Buffalo Bills, but he’s embraced the city’s love for their home team and he’s become part of their community.
Teller is also part of the military-veteran community. As the son of an officer in the U.S. Army Reserve, caring for military members and their families is a cause that hits close to home. He’s a supporter of the Green Beret Foundation, which offers emergency and ongoing support for members of the Army’s Special Forces.
He also surprised Lisa Stork, a First Sergeant in the U.S. Air Force, and her family with a $50,000 grand prize when the Browns and CrossCountry Mortgage teamed up for the Dedicated Dawgs Sweepstakes. When the team hosted more than 200 military members during training camp, Teller stayed back and spent time with each of them after practice.
“I’m thankful for the people overseas and for the men and women who keep us protected,” Teller said during an interview. “These people are the ones who are putting their lives on the line for us and for what our society believes is right.”
When it comes to the USS Cleveland, the city of Cleveland has some special ideas in mind to honor the latest ship to share its name and the men and women that will crew her. The first USS Cleveland was a steam-powered protected cruiser, first commissioned in 1903. This ship cruised around the world and escorted convoys to Europe during World War I.
World War II brought another USS Cleveland, and this time it was the lead ship in its class of light cruisers. The ship and its crew earned 12 battle stars for their service in the Pacific Theater. In 1966, a new USS Cleveland was christened, this time as an amphibious transport dock. This Cleveland deployed in support of the Vietnam War, served as the U.S. Third Fleet flagship, served in Operation Desert Storm, and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
When the third USS Cleveland was decommissioned in 2011, it was the third longest-serving ship in the U.S. Navy at 44 years, behind only the USS Enterprise and the USS Constitution. The newest USS Cleveland is a Freedom-variant class Littoral Combat Ship whose ultimate destination is Littoral Combat Ship Squadron 2, off the coast of Florida, in 2024.
But before the ship makes its way to Florida, it will stop in Cleveland, Ohio, where the Browns’ Wyatt Teller will be one of the many on hand to make its maiden voyage special for the ship and its crew.
The USS Cleveland Legacy Foundation has coordinated an effort to make special sea bags for sailors aboard the USS Cleveland, sponsoring sailors during their tours, hosting Thanksgiving dinner for the crew and their families, and sending care packages while it’s deployed. It also helps Cleveland sailors with their transition once they leave the Navy.
In 2021, the city of Cleveland even received a replica of the Lone Sailor Statue from the U.S. Navy Memorial in Washington. Only 18 sites around the world have such a special replica, including Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and Normandy Beach in France. In Summer 2023, Cleveland’s Lone Sailor will take its permanent place in the city’s Voinovich Bicentennial Park.