Remembering Sen. Ted Stevens’ legacy as new Navy ship bears his name

The USS Ted Stevens is a guided missile destroyer that will be christened Aug. 19 in Mississippi
Published: Aug. 18, 2023 at 12:00 PM AKDT|Updated: Aug. 18, 2023 at 4:35 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - He was born Theodore Fulton Stevens, in 1923, but was best known as Sen. Ted Stevens, and by some, simply, as “Uncle Ted.”

Alaska’s late U.S. Senator was appointed to the post back in 1968, by former Gov. Wally Hickel. Two years later, in 1970, Stevens was overwhelmingly elected, with 70% of the vote.

“I don’t have any ambitions other than to be an effective senator,” Stevens said in a 2002 interview. “I would not want to be around here if I’m not effective. But my grandmother used to tell me, only the good die young.”

Stevens did not die young. He was killed in a 2010 plane crash at the age of 86. But despite his grandmother’s proverb, this Alaskan elder statesman was known for the good he did for Alaska and its people.

Throughout his service in the U.S. Capitol, he was considered the most successful lawmaker to bring those federal dollars home to Alaska — from its larger cities to small villages in remote corners of every region.

In fact, it was back in the year 2000 when the former Anchorage International Airport was renamed. Since then, bearing the name, Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, to honor the lawmaker who pushed for, and gained, millions of dollars in federal funding for major expansions and upgrades to Alaska’s largest airport.

And now, his legacy will live on — from the air to the sea. The USS Ted Stevens will be a major force in the Navy’s fleet, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, a way to honor a man who was a major force for military support.

“Senator Stevens was a staunch supporter of a strong Navy and Marine Corps team who served our nation with distinction as a pilot during World War II, and later as a Senator of Alaska,” according to Secretary of the Navy, Richard V. Spencer, in a 2019 news release statement. He went on to say, “I am pleased that his legacy of service and dedication to national security will live on in the future USS Ted Stevens.”

Honoring a man who was not without controversy, but one who clearly expressed his love of Alaska and its people.

And in his own words, ”40 years it’s hard to believe so much time could pass so quickly but it has and I want everyone listening to know that I treasure every moment I’ve spent here representing Alaska and Alaskans the land and the people that I love.”

This article has been corrected to reflect the Senator was born in 1923, not 1943.