Sailors assigned to USS George

Sailors assigned to USS George Washington view artifacts from George Washington’s personal collection in the Washington Library at Mount Vernon. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Robert J. Stamer)

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — A select number of Sailors assigned to the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73), along with the ship’s commanding officer Capt. Brent Gaut, participated in a customized tour of Mount Vernon, George Washington’s family estate, Sept. 14.

Among the Sailors chosen for the event were several Spirit of Freedom award winners, as well as various crew members selected as Sailor of the Quarter and Sailor of the Year. The tour route included different stops around the grounds of Mount Vernon, including the special additions of climbing to the top of the main building’s famed cupola, and viewing centuries-old documents belonging to Washington in the private vault of the estate research library.

The participants derived meaning from different aspects of the tour, with Interior Communications Specialist 2nd Class Emma Dolata noting that the personal responsibility and accountability of Washington stood out to her.

“He took so much pride and care in his home even after all the big things he did,” she said, touching on the fact that farming and cultivating were near to Washington’s heart. “Anyone could have done it for him but he woke up early each morning to take care of his farm and do rounds on the land.”

Gaut was impressed by the work of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, a group of women that saved the estate from falling into ruin in the mid-19th century, and the organization that controls the property to this day.

“It’s an extraordinary story, their bravery in purchasing the land to save it, and the work they’ve done to maintain and preserve the President’s home and part of his legacy.”

The tour included a meeting with the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association chief executive officer Dr. Douglas Bradburn, who Gaut presented with a flag flown aboard the USS George Washington. Bradburn acknowledged the profound connection between Washington and the ethos of the modern United States military.

“Washington is the father of the American military….the idea that civilians control the military, that the [United States] military is the highest-educated military in the world, that all comes from George Washington’s vision itself.”

“He was ‘first in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of his countrymen’.”

USS George Washington is undergoing refueling and complex overhaul (RCOH) at Newport News Shipyard. RCOH is a multi-year project performed only once during a carrier’s 50-year service life that includes refueling the ship’s two nuclear reactors, as well as significant repairs, upgrades, and modernization. The USS George Washington motto is “First in war, first in peace.”

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