Honoring Our Fallen Heroes

Ford Sailors participate in Wreaths Across America

Story by Petty Officer 3rd Class Cathrine Mae O. Campbell

HAMPTON, Va. — Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) Sailors participated in A Wreaths Across America Ceremony held on Dec. 17 at Hampton National Cemetery in honor of all veterans past and present.

“I’m a firm believer in always giving back to those who have served,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Zachary Perez, a volunteer from Ford’s weapons department. “I think it’s important as a military member to remember our brothers and sisters in arms. Being able to lay the wreaths is a small sacrifice on my part for the ultimate sacrifice they’ve paid.”

Wreaths Across America

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (Dec. 17, 2016) — Petty Officer 3rd Class Zachary Perez, assigned to Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), places a wreath during a Wreaths Across America Ceremony at Hampton National Cemetery. More than 8,000 wreaths were placed at Hampton National Cemetery by community volunteers. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Cathrine Mae O. Campbell)

Wreaths Across America is a nationwide wreath-laying ceremony that honors fallen veterans every December. This was the fifth year that Wreaths Across America was held at Hampton National Cemetery and more than 8,000 wreaths were placed on veterans’ gravestones by volunteers.

“It is important for everyone to come together as a community and participate in the annual Wreaths Across America activities because it is important for us to remember the ultimate sacrifice made by most of the individuals buried at the national cemeteries,” said Maribel Beckwith, the Wreath Across America location leader for Hampton National Cemetery.

Beckwith stresses the importance of community support and how Wreaths Across America is only as successful as the community allows it to be.

“It’s important for the community to know that this event will be held every year,” Beckwith said. “We want to continue, but we can only do so with community support. We encourage every organization, every church group, every business and every community group to sponsor wreaths, do some fundraising and please support.”

Ford’s color guard and choir also performed during the ceremony.

“Despite the cold weather and it being my first time to participate in this event, I felt proud to be able to honor our fallen heroes,” said Seaman Seth Anderson, a Sailor from Ford’s weapons department and member of the ship’s color guard. “In my opinion, having past and present military members attend shows the support we have for one another and how connected we can be.”

For more information on Wreaths Across America, please go to http://www.wreathsacrossamerica.org.

Wreaths Across America

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (Dec. 17, 2016) — Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford’s (CVN 78) color guard and choir perform during a Wreaths Across America Ceremony at Hampton National Cemetery. More than 8,000 wreaths were placed at Hampton National Cemetery by community volunteers. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Cathrine Mae O. Campbell)

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NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (Mar 09, 2016) — Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) Sailors from Combat Systems department practice loading an inert-dummy RIM-162 Evolved SeaSparrow Missile into the NATO Sea Sparrow Missile System launcher. Training with inactive and dummy rounds helps prepare these Sailors for later evolutions involving the loading of live ordnance. Ford is scheduled for commissioning in 2016. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Patrick Grieco/Released)

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NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (Mar 09, 2016) — Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) Sailors, assigned to the ship’s Combat Systems department, practice loading an inert-dummy RIM-162 Evolved SeaSparrow Missile into the portside-aft NATO Sea Sparrow Missile System launcher. Training with inactive and dummy rounds helps prepare these Sailors for later evolutions involving the loading of live ordnance. Ford is scheduled for commissioning in 2016. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Patrick Grieco/Released)

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NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (Mar 09, 2016) — Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) Sailors, assigned to the ship’s Combat Systems department, practice loading an inert-dummy RIM-162 Evolved SeaSparrow Missile into the portside-aft NATO Sea Sparrow Missile System launcher. Training with inactive and dummy rounds helps prepare these Sailors for later evolutions involving the loading of live ordnance. Ford is scheduled for commissioning in 2016. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Patrick Grieco/Released)

PCU Gerald R. Ford Sailor Receives Dungan Award

Story by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jason Pastrick

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – (November 30, 2016) A Sailor assigned to Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) received the Chief Aerographer’s Mate John R. Dungan award for fiscal year 2016.

Senior Chief Petty Officer Matthew Euler, from Peru, Illinois, was nominated by his peers for his exceptional performance in the fields of meteorology and oceanography in support of fleet operations. 

The Dungan award recognizes individuals who demonstrate excellence and make significant contributions to the Aerographer community. Nominees for the award were selected based on their leadership, performance, special accomplishments and expert application of weather sciences.

“Senior Chief Euler is everything you could want in an Aerographer’s Mate and senior enlisted leader,” said Cmdr. William Richmond, Ford’s senior intelligence officer. “He’s a critical member of the Chief’s Mess and his local community. He always keeps a positive attitude, and he serves as a role model for us all.”

Euler was instrumental in establishing and leading a first-in-class meteorology and oceanography (METOC) center aboard Ford. Euler has also been recognized for his dedication in the civilian sector as well.  Most recently, he has received the American Weather Association Most Accurate Forecaster award for 2016.

“I’ve just always had a great passion for the weather,” said Euler. “We know how severe it can be, and how quickly weather can change.  We need to be as accurate as possible to ensure the safety and welfare of the crew.”

Like many senior enlisted leaders, Euler prides himself on mentoring junior Sailors assigned to his division.

“More than anything,  [Euler] has taught us that we’re Sailors first, and weathermen second,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Blain Allen. “Sure, I can predict the weather, but I can also fight a fire and support my shipmates in other ways too.”

Euler is slated to receive the award on Dec. 9, surrounded by friends and family in Washington D.C.

“It takes a group effort, and I’m fortunate to have such a dependable team,” said Euler. “It’s an honor to have your name attached to something you’re so passionate about.  I’m absolutely humbled to be in the Navy and love my job.”

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SECNAV Visits Ford on Navy’s Birthday

by Petty Officer 2nd Class Kristopher Ruiz

Newport News, Va. – Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Ray Mabus visited Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) Oct. 13 to meet with Sailors and Huntington Ingalls Industries Newport News Shipbuilding shipbuilders on board the Navy’s first-in-class aircraft carrier.

Mabus’ visit on board Ford coincided with the 241st birthday of the U.S. Navy.  

“There’s no navy that has ever existed that comes close to this Navy,” said Mabus. “We’re going to make sure that the Navy has as bright a future as its storied past.” 

Mabus highlighted the Navy’s efforts in supporting renewable energy, the importance of relationships with partner countries, the vital trust between the U.S. Navy and the American public, and the significance of aircraft carriers.

“This ship will protect America for half a century,” Mabus told Ford Sailors. 

Mabus took time to answer questions and pose for photos with crew members.

“It was an honor to welcome SECNAV and have him speak with Ford Sailors on the Navy’s birthday,” said Capt. Rick McCormack, Ford’s commanding officer.

McCormack noted that over 100 Ford Sailors are deployed on ships around the world, to include two Sailors aboard USS Mason (DDG 87) and three Sailors aboard USS Nitze (DDG 94).

The Nitze conducted targeted strikes against three radar sites in Houthi-controlled territory on Yemen’s Red Sea coast. The targeted radar sites were involved in recent missile launches threatening Mason and other vessels operating in international waters in the Bab al-Mandeb and the Red Sea.

“The thing I am most proud of are the Sailors and Marines serving today,” Mabus said, adding “Nobody can touch our Navy, and it’s our job to make sure it stays that way.”

 

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NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (Oct. 13, 2016) — Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus takes selfies with Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) Sailors at Huntington Ingalls Industries Newport News Shipbuilding. Mabus visited Oct. 13 to meet with Sailors and shipbuilders Navy’s newest first-in-class aircraft carrier. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Cathrine Mae O. Campbell/Released)

 

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NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (Oct. 13, 2016) — Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus addresses Sailors and shipbuilders aboard Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) at Huntington Ingalls Industries Newport News Shipbuilding. Mabus visited Oct. 13 to meet with Sailors and shipbuilders Navy’s newest first-in-class aircraft carrier. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Cathrine Mae O. Campbell/Released)

PCU Gerald R. Ford Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

Story and photos by Petty Officer Third Class Sean Elliott

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (October 12, 2016)—Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) held a Hispanic Heritage Month festival in Newport News, Oct. 11.

Around The Ship

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (Oct. 12, 2016) — Sailors assigned to Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), pose for a group photo at the Hispanic Heritage Month festival. Ford is under construction at Huntington Ingalls Newport News Shipyard. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Sean Elliott/Released)

Sailors from Ford’s Multicultural Heritage Committee presented an interactive experience to educate fellow Sailors on different cultures from many Hispanic countries.

“Our primary objective is to educate and to let people express themselves in ways not normally seen,” said Chief Petty Officer Michael Payne. “This [festival] is a good way for people to come out of their comfort zones and learn something.”

The festival was held at nearby Huntington Hall and included booths designed by Ford Sailors showcasing different aspects of Hispanic culture. Ford Sailors attending the festival had the opportunity to observe and learn about different Hispanic cultures by participating in sports, games, and tasting traditional Hispanic food.

Around The Ship

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (Oct. 12, 2016) — Sailors assigned to Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), pose for a group photo at the Hispanic Heritage Month festival. Ford is under construction at Huntington Ingalls Newport News Shipyard. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Sean Elliott/Released)

“Each Sailor running their booth brought a touch of their own religion, holidays, or traditions to explain to us why it is important to them,” said Petty Officer First Class Derico Callaway.

Ford’s Multicultural Heritage Committee regularly plans events spotlighting different cultures and invites all Ford Sailors to take part in the celebration and learn new information.

“Today, I learned about Day of the Dead, a holiday when the deceased are remembered,” said Petty Officer Third Class Keishunda Ellislee. “The Hispanic Heritage Month festival was awesome.”

Around the Ship

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (Oct. 12, 2016) — Sailors assigned to Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), pose for a group photo at the Hispanic Heritage Month festival. Ford is under construction at Huntington Ingalls Newport News Shipyard. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Sean Elliott/Released)

Around the Ship

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (Oct. 12, 2016) — Sailors assigned to Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), pose for a group photo at the Hispanic Heritage Month festival. Ford is under construction at Huntington Ingalls Newport News Shipyard. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Sean Elliott/Released)