Events and Partnerships
From the 22nd-28th, Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardmen had the opportunity to explore, interact with locals and give back to the community.
On the 23rd, the Marine Corps tug-of-war team defeated team Navy, ending an eight-year winning streak, during a broadcast of the Fox and Friends morning show aboard USS New York.
“Attending this event today meant a lot to us,” said Marine Corps Capt. Caroline Locksmith, a Marine Corps Body Bearer and member of the victorious team. “We have parades every Friday of every week starting at the end of April, so to be able to participate in this and still manage all of those was huge - and I know it meant a lot, especially to General Neller, for us to win this year. To be part of the winning team was really monumental.”
The event has become an annual part of Fleet Week New York (FWNY) and serves as a friendly competition for the visiting service members. Additionally, the national broadcast gives citizens across the country a chance to see their military in action and hear the stories of individual service members.
“It’s a great opportunity to highlight our Navy and Marine Corps team to the nation, and getting an outlet like this provided a window into our daily world here,” said New York’s commanding officer, Navy Capt. Brent DeVore. “Unfortunately the weather didn’t work out for us as well as we hoped, but as usual we adapt and overcome.”
On the 23rd and 24th, Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen assisted with building an affordable home during Habitat for Humanity (HFH) New York City’s seventh annual Fleet Week Build in Queens. The HFH New York City site was previously a condemned house, left vacant for about 15 years. Because of its poor condition, HFH New York City had to completely demolish the home and build back from the foundation up. “It’s amazing to work with the sea service members,” said Matthew Dunbar, the vice president of external affairs for HFH New York City. “The Fleet Week Build is one of our most productive builds of the year.”
Dunbar said that because of the service members’ hard work and dedication, the organization usually finds themselves a few days ahead of schedule. “They really do make our mission their mission during Fleet Week,” said Dunbar. “The service members volunteering with us are not only serving and providing a home for a future home owner, but they’re also bringing this lot, [which] was once an eyesore, back to the community.” On the 24th, a joint reenlistment and promotion ceremony was held at the 9/11 Memorial for Sailors attached to USS New York , USS Jason Dunham and various other commands.
The National September 11 Memorial is a tribute of remembrance and honor to the 2,977 people killed in the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 at the World Trade Center site, at the Pentagon, and near Shanksville, Pa., as well as the six people killed in the World Trade Center bombing in February 1993.
Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces, Adm. Christopher Grady, reenlisting and promotion officer, spoke about those who choose to serve and what it means to extend an enlistment and gain more responsibility through promotions.
“For those of you joining us today that don’t know them, let me tell you a little bit about the young men and women who stand before you,” said Grady. “They chose a life of service. They chose a life of sacrifice. They chose a path that less than one percent of all Americans choose to follow. They chose to preserve freedom for the other 99 percent. A commitment that I believe to be the truest measure of what it means to be a citizen.”
Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Nicholas Basone, assigned to New York, was in attendance to support a friend there to reenlist. “We’re stationed on New York, so it’s neat to be here and to know that this is what we represent every day,” said Basone.
“Every night [underway], before the chaplain says a prayer, he gives a story about one person that fell that day. There is never a day that we’re not reminded of the reason that we are here, and what we are fighting for.” On the 25th, Sea servicemembers welcomed more than 40 Girl Scouts and their family members from several troops across the lower Hudson Valley to tour USS New York. New York Sailors along with visiting Marines and Coast Guardsmen talked to the Girl Scouts about life in today's maritime services and hosted a question-and-answer session with female servicemembers.
"It’s an honor to have these girls aboard," said Lt. Morgan Dankanich, attached to New York. "The entire group was very engaged and seemed to really appreciate the tour.”
Dankanich led the scouts through more spaces than the touring public typically sees including the hangar bay, flight deck, bridge and wardroom. They were also served lunch on the mess decks.
Calista, 16, experienced FWNY for her second time with troop number 1676 from Ardsley, New York. In addition to the tour, she, her fellow Girl Scouts and their family members engaged a panel of female servicemembers on what life is like in the Armed Forces.
"The military looks like a great experience," she said. “I love coming out and learning how the military is run."
Finally, away from the city in Bridgewater, New Jersey, Sailors assigned to the submarine force visited Somerset County Vocational and Technical High School to interact with students during a community relations (COMREL) Career Day event on the 23rd.
Submariners, along with Marines, explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) technicians and Sailors from Navy Recruiting Commands, attended the event to interact and share their stories and knowledge they have gain during their military enlistment.
The event included tributes to fallen service members by students and the local community through speeches, singing and honorary wreath and flower presentations, followed by Career Day.
Machinist’s Mate Auxiliary 1st Class James Piedrasanta, assigned to Naval Submarine Support Facility, attended Fleet Week New York for the first time this year and enjoyed every moment of his first day at a FWNY COMREL.
“I think the event went really well; the ceremony in the beginning was heartwarming and really sweet,” said Piedrasanta. “The entire day was really cool. A lot of kids had questions about submarines, so we explained as much we could.”
During the event, the service members ate lunch with students and the community in attendance followed by the Navy Band North East playing a few sets to get the crowd in high spirits. Students also had a chance to watch Marines and EOD show off a few of their capabilities.
Fleet Week New York, now in its 31st year, is the city’s time-honored celebration of the sea services. It is an unparalleled opportunity for the citizens of New York and the surrounding tri-state area to meet Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen, as well as witness firsthand the latest capabilities of today’s maritime services.