NORFOLK -- Sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) welcomed guests to the ship for a Family and Friends Day cruise, Aug. 27.
TR Sailors invited more than 2,000 of their family and friends for a day at sea to give them a taste of life aboard the mighty warship.
“While there are many high definition TV shows depicting carrier life, until you’re actually hearing and seeing it firsthand, there is no way to really understand what it’s like. I guarantee it will be a memory of a lifetime,” said Capt. Daniel Grieco, TR’s commanding officer. “Enjoy and have fun. Take time to say hi to the Sailors. Many of them will be humble, but the reality is that it takes everyone on the ship to run her efficiently each day.”
The day was a unique chance for Sailors to bring their loved ones aboard and show their family and friends where they work and how they live.
“We are very proud of what he’s doing. He’s doing his job and serving his country,” said Tanya Demby, mother of Damage Controlman Fireman Jonathan Korver. “It’s amazing.”
“It was fun to have them aboard. It’s an experience I’m glad I had,” said Korver. “I’m definitely proud they came aboard.
As TR gracefully cut her way through the sea, guests and Sailors took part in myriad events. In the ship’s hangar bay, the hub of activity, guests played bean-bag toss, hopped in the bounce house and listened to live music. Guests also followed self-guided tour routes designed to provide a glimpse of the ship’s inner workings.
“A lot of planning went into this day. We tried to provide as many different activities as we could,” said Megan Villapudua, TR’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation representative and afloat recreational specialist.
The hangar bay also doubled as a mess deck for more than 5,000 people. TR’s food service specialists put on an all-day feast that included a light breakfast, lunch and an ice cream social.
“There was a lot of advance planning and a lot of coordination between many different parties to make this all run smoothly,” said Chief Warrant Officer Benny Brockington, TR’s food service officer. “We fed about 3,000 more people than we usually do. Everyone knew their role, and everyone understood that we wanted to make the ship look good. All of this was due to the team we have.”
Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1 treated guests to an air power demonstration that dazzled guests watching from the flight deck. The demonstration featured air-refueling, precision formation flying and a supersonic flyby.
“The energy was very infectious. Everyone was on pins and needles waiting to see the demonstration,” said Ellen Hilkowski, wife of Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Anthony Hilkowski. “It made me proud.”
TR and her crew performed one final demonstration of seamanship and professionalism by mooring the hulking ship to the pier they departed from. Then with the brows attached family and friends departed, the festive day drew to a close.
“The reason we have days like today is because, I’m exceptionally proud of each and every one of our Sailor’s,” said Command Master Chief Bill Smalts, TR’s command master chief. “And if their family members and friends could come out and see what they do every day and understand what it is they do and what they sacrifice, they would be proud to. It is their sacrifice that enables us to so what we do.”