24 Hours Aboard the USS Wasp
When we passed Ground Zero, all of the military members on deck gave a salute at full attention. The ships that entered the harbor ahead of the Wasp had sailed further north up the Hudson River and doubled back to pass in review of the flagship. As the ships passed by each other the crew members gave a salute to each other.
The Aegis Class cruiser, USS San Jacinto, had its Texas state flag flying proudly in the wind along with a very large American flag. Overhead a series of military jets flew past in review, as well as numerous press and police helicopters. As the ship was moored to the dock, the Navy “Jack”—a flag with red and white horizontal bars and the words “Don’t Tread on Me”—was hoisted onto a staff at the bow of the flight deck.
From a citizen’s view, it is evident that the military members we met train hard, take care of the equipment taxpayers provide, and are ready to carry out dangerous missions on short notice. It is really a people business—training and integrating young men and women just six months out of high school into the demanding life of the military at sea. Morale is high, and everyone works at that.
One officer, ASC Christopher Vaino, mentioned that on 9/11 he went to the shipyard in Norfolk expecting a normal day. After watching the events on television he was told the ship on which he served was going immediately out to sea and that the Navy would fly his gear out to the ship. The crew returned home eight months later.
We gave the crew the gift of a framed picture containing a picture of our American Legion Unit presenting a large American flag on the field at Shea Stadium last year. Perhaps the next time the ship goes to sea heading towards the Persian Gulf, a small representation of our community will sail with them.