Independence Week visit

From USS Farragut to Town of Farragut for Roberts + 7 crew

  • USS Farragut Cmdr. Thomas Roberts - Photos submitted

  • U.S. Navy Cmdr. Thomas Roberts hard at work with an enviable office view aboard the USS Farragut, which he commands while out at sea. The USS Farragut’s Namesake Tour began Tuesday, July 2, and will last through the Independence Day festivities into Monday, July 8. - Photos submitted

Ever at a party thinking you captivatingly were retelling just the most awesome tale only to be upstaged immediately thereafter by another? Like, “My buddies and I were on a once-in-a-lifetime trip at sea and caught this beast that must’ve been, like, this big,” arms widespread as though in flight with all the bravado you could muster.

And another partygoer, as nonchalantly as taking a breath, recounts how he and his buddies caught a drug-smuggling arm of a presumptive cartel out in the Caribbean Sea and stopped some $44 million in cocaine from making its way ashore.

Goodbye, bragging rights, and say hello to U.S. Navy Cmdr. Thomas Roberts, the man who, with pure humility, could close the curtain on your party tales (true story above).

Roberts, commander of the USS Farragut (DDG 99), is no stranger to a naval warship, and he’s no stranger to East Tennessee either, where he has returned for his destroyer’s Namesake Tour of the Town of Farragut and other Independence Day festivities into Monday, July 8.

Roberts and a seven-sailor crew dined with the Town of Farragut’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen Tuesday, July 2, and today (Wednesday, July 3) they’re touring the area and are the highlight of a picnic at Farragut Community Center from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., prepping for Independence Day celebrations and marching in the annual Parade as part of the namesake tour — tours that provide a chance for ships’ crews to learn more about the people, events or towns for which their ships got their names.

This is Roberts’ second tour of Farragut, but commanding the USS Farragut in particular was more a matter of the world working in its otherworldly way. “It was a complete coincidence that I got assigned on the USS Farragut,” Roberts said. “But it was a pretty awesome coincidence just because I already had that connection.”

That connection, where the dots join, is that his wife’s parents lived in Farragut for nearly a decade before having a house built in Tellico Village in Loudon County.

“We’ve had a Tennessee connection for a long, long time,” Roberts said.

He and his high school flame, Tara Roberts, met while at Notre Dame High School in Chattanooga, marrying along an Hawaiian coast in 2008 before their two sons, Chase, 15, and Cameron, 13, were born. She, the “Commander of the Family,” he joked, runs everything at their home base in Mayport, the naval base in Jacksonville, Florida. “She’s a Navy family mom captain. She runs everything for us that’s not on the ship.”


But commanding a naval warship wasn’t some lifelong dream of Roberts,’ he said by phone on his way to Town. He, as many youth of that day and today, witnessed the awe of the Blue Angels in flight, which sort of planted a seed in him. As with many of life’s decisions, however, things boiled down to economics.

“A huge reason why I initially started,” he added. “It’s a tremendous benefit towards college because they foot the bill, so you don’t come out of the back side with any kind of debt.”

After graduating from Notre Dame in 2001, Roberts chartered a course farther south to Tulane University (New Orleans) on an ROTC scholarship, swore the naval oath and turned his tassel in 2005 when commissioned into the Navy.

A couple calendars removed, Roberts was sold, saying those introductory years really made him want to continue onward with the Navy.

“I’ve had awesome experiences at the jobs that I’ve had, the ships that I’ve been on and the places that I’ve seen,” he said, “so it’s just been more reason to stick around a little bit longer.

“It is a huge time sacrifice that every single person makes,” Roberts added. “That’s why serving at all sets a lot of people apart for me personally because anybody who volunteers to serve is doing something that a huge number of others just haven’t.”