Many great Missourians (Mizzourans?) showed me how proud they were of their state and her connections to the US Navy
Many great Americans showed me how proud they were of working on the USS Missouri in their jobs with Northrop Grumman ship Building, Electric Boat, General Dynamics and other ship building contractors.
Many great Sailors showed me how proud they were of the newest Virginia class, nuclear powered attack sub in specific and their Navy as a whole.
It was picture perfect weather, bright and sunny - I have the wicked sunburn to prove it - yet breezy and cool.
I managed somehow to drag myself out of bed at 0600 yesterday morning, which was quite the feat! After all my traveling lately, sleep hasn't been top on the list. But if anything could get me up early....it's the Navy! I made it down to the US Navy Submarine Base in Groton, CT in less than two hours. Gotta love these Saturday morning drives!
Wendy of My Military Life met me in a nearby parking lot and drove me in. I had the pleasure of meeting her son and husband. After one quick seat upgrade (that's how we roll!), we were settled in a great spot well before the ceremony began. This gave us time to walk around and "work the crowd" lol. we popped into the press section and introduced ourselves to the various public affairs Sailors. In particular we talked with one Sailor about all the cool things she has experienced in the Navy. She spoke of meeting living history in the form of retired Sailors, especially those who fought at Midway. Then she announced that she was retiring soon and I was confused because she looked really young. She laughed and thanked me for the compliment...but you would have paused too!
We met @SubGru2. It's always funny to walk up to a stranger and say "I follow you!" But better than that, I got to meet @CarolCasey who is a "Tweep" I have corresponded with for a while and a fellow member of Project Valour-IT Team Navy. Carol was a WAVE and is from "Missoura". She wants to remind everyone..."Submarines are NOT ships - they ARE boats!" And here I thought "Boats" was an affectionate term for Boatswains Mates. So what do you call a boatswain's mate when he/she is on a sub?
The remarks weren't too long and Rep Ike Skelton was the best of all speakers. He wasn't just up there talking....he was sharing his many connections with the Navy, with America and with every USS Missouri. Skelton's father served on one of USS Missouri's predecessor's the BB-11.After USS Missouri's ship's sponsor, Becky Gates (she brought some guy Bob with her) gave the order to "Man this ship and bring her to life!"...the roar of "Aye, aye ma'am!" in return was deafening. The crew was standing right behind us, in front of the Navy Band Northeast. Speaking of which. People were raving about the band. I was like "Yeah, they're good." But so many people said it and repeated themselves.....I guess they are unusually good. Does this mean I am spoiled? Anyway, the Navy Band Northeast was fantastic...as always.
After the Sailors ran aboard the boat and the (help me out here...) masts? pipes? protrusions? Come on! I am a surface warfare girl, this is not my forte. Dad was a Tincan Sailor. USS Constitution is a frigate. Anyway, it was quite the sight.
***UPDATE - Bubblehead posted about the commissioning and he had the correct terminology....cause he is Bubblehead - it's "cycle the masts and antennas"**
Then there was lots of cheering and a loud whistle from the sub and returning alarms sounded elsewhere on the base.
There was a reception with what was, from all accounts, completely fabulous BBQ. I didn't eat, between the sunburn and being tired and facing the drive home, I didn't think it was wise to do more than drink water. Which they had a lot of.
Everyone moved from the pier to the reception tent, I saw the CNO. I grabbed Wendy to bring her over. ADM Roughead was greeting everyone and taking pictures. I shook his hand and it took him a sec to realize who I was, obbing to the surface in this sea of humanity. But then he greeted me warmly. He took a picture with Wendy and I. It would have been tempting to talk longer, but there were people (and BBQ!) waiting. Inside the tent I spotted his wife and wanted to say hi, but she was just sitting down to eat. then when I went back, I overestimated time-wise and they were gone. So, just know I was thinking of you Mrs. Roughead.
There had to have been more people than they expected because every seat in the tent was full and loads of people ate standing up outside. I know it's a southern thing....but serving BBQ to a bunch of guys dressed in white??? LOL! But I didn't see any spills. I wonder if that was because it was so good, no one wanted to lose even a drop?
So you could spot the people from Missouri because they were wearing their state flag (every guest was handed a small state flag on the way in as well as a program) in their shirt pockets or in their hats. Hats....hmmm, now that is something I could have used. Did I mention that my nose is glowing red like Rudolph?
I spoke with one woman who was visiting from Missouri. Her husband's fraternity donated the silver service for the wardroom in honor of a deceased fraternity borther who was in the Navy. She said when they were told by the commissioning committee that anyone who particpated could go.....she told her husband that they could visit their daughter in Hartford and kill two birds with one stone. She was having a great time. I was told later that she also spoke of the Sailor in question very movingly at the previous night's reception. I will have to check the program to see if there is any info there.
As people were wrapping up their BBQ, I was leaning on a jersey barrier and people watching.
A man came off the pier in a suit with a box under his arms and walked toward a group of Sailors in NWUs. I think the Sailors were some sort of security. The man shifted his box and shook the hand of each Sailor thanking him for his service. Then he continued toward the opening in the barrier near me and I called out "Now come over here and meet me." Of course he did. I shook his hand and said "I'm Maggie" he smiled and told me he was Charlie. I asked what he was did and he downplayed. I laughed and said "Charlie, you have a box and badge and a list. You are doing something. Are you on the commissioning committee?" He said he was and I complimented them for their web page and Facebook page. Charlie told me he was retired Navy and he was from Missouri. LOL! Clearly. He asked if I was local and I told him I was from Boston. He asked if I would say "Harvard Yard." Now normally when people ask me that I say "Yes, I can" and walk away. But Charlie was just so darn cute, I had to say it for him.
After that, we all headed out. But there may be another adventure with Wendy next weekend....stay tuned!
Someone posted a video link on the Commissioning Committee's Facebook page. It is pretty much exactly my view. If you were to peek over the shoulder of the 3rd Sailor from the left, I was in a chair directly in front of him.
Here is a story on the commissioning from Navy.mil