Saturday, September 20, 2014

Fleet Week Hosts Luncheon for Enlisted Service Members

By Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Joe Bishop, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- The San Diego Fleet Week Foundation hosted an Enlisted Recognition Luncheon at SeaWorld for service members from commands in the San Diego region, Sept. 18.

"Fleet Week recognizes some of our top-performing enlisted Sailors here in San Diego," said Navy Region Southwest Regional Master Chief David Dearie. "That's what Fleet Week is about - celebrating the Navy - and this luncheon recognizes the brilliant performance of all our military."

Many sponsors attended the luncheon and raffled prizes ranging from an autographed Antonio Gates Chargers jersey to a free round of golf at the Admiral Baker Golf Course.
"The ability to support and sponsor this event for Fleet Week and do something that really gives back to the service men and women gives us pride and satisfaction," said David Koontz, director of Communications at Sea World. "There are many employees of Sea World who are former Navy and Marines. It's something that really hits home."

The Fleet Week Foundation handed out tickets to a San Diego Padres game as well as a San Diego State University Aztec game for each service member in attendance.

"It takes a lot of work and coordination to put something like this together," said Quartermaster 1st Class Brandon Pockell, assigned to USS Boxer (LHD 4). "We truly feel honored by the recognition."

Irving ISD Receives SeaPerch Robotics Training

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jonathan Vargas, Navy Recruiting District Dallas Public Affairs

IRVING, Texas (NNS) -- Navy Recruiting Command's city outreach officer held SeaPerch robotics training for teachers from 10 schools in Irving Independent School District (ISD), Sept. 16.

The SeaPerch program is sponsored by the Office of Naval Research and it provides students with the opportunity to learn hands on about science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) while challenging them to build an underwater remotely operated vehicle.

"The training went well," said Lt. Cmdr. J. Darnell Jones, Navy City Outreach Officer for Southwest Region. "Irving ISD is the newest ISD that will participate in the SeaPerch program and we are looking forward to the competition early next year."

Jones mentioned that the Navy is dedicated to get students interested in STEM-related fields and the best way to get to the students is to educate the teachers about programs like SeaPerch. Once the teachers are taught on how to build the underwater robot, they can teach their students and prepare them for the SeaPerch competition.

Vince De Jesus, video game design teacher from Lady Bird Johnson Middle School was one of the teachers in attendance that received the training.

"I think this program is really cool and it gives the students the opportunity to learn hands on," said De Jesus. "It's an awesome opportunity to have the Navy promote STEM awareness in the schools."

Jones, along with Senior Chief Navy Counselor Aaron Johnson, will be visiting the schools throughout the year to talk with teachers and to motivate and mentor the students to get them ready for the SeaPerch competition at the end of the school year.

"The teachers will have guidance through the SeaPerch website which has all the standard operating procedures," said Jones. "We will also be at the schools every other week to observe and answer any questions the students have about the SeaPerch robotics program. We will guide them every step of the way so they can be prepared for the competition at the end of the school year."

Recruiters from Navy Recruiting District Dallas will also be available to help any students and teachers throughout the process of building an underwater robot.

"I'm excited to see how the students react to SeaPerch and what they will do with it. They are the real innovators," said De Jesus.

Arizona Survivor Visits USS Kidd

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Rosalie Chang, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Former crew member of the battleship USS Arizona (BB 39) and survivor of the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, Lauren Bruner, visited with Sailors stationed aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Kidd (DDG 100), Sept. 19.

"As I was running to my battle station from the main deck, I was wounded by machinegun fire from a Japanese fighter plane as I got to the director station," said Bruner. "Within 10 minutes after the attack began, we were hit with a 'lucky bomb' that penetrated the decks, falling between gun turret one and two."

Bruner received the Purple Heart after being wounded in battle on the Arizona.

Of the 335 men that survived the attack, less than 100 were actually aboard Arizona at the time; however, 1,177 Sailors and Marines lost their lives, including Adm. Isaac Kidd, the USS Kidd's namesake.

"Bruner was serving in the gunnery department aboard USS Arizona and was 15 feet away from the namesake of our warship when Adm. Kidd died," said USS Kidd Commanding Officer, Cmdr. T.J. Zerr. "Adm. Kidd was the first flag officer in World War II who was killed in battle and for Bruner to have been there and survived, and then to be here on our ship, telling his account of the events that happened on that historic day is amazing and it is a great honor for us to be a part of this experience."

After listening to stories from Bruner about his time in the service, Zerr presented him with a command ball cap, coin and t-shirt. Bruner, Zerr said, set the example of what it means to serve and what it means to fight for what you believe in.

"For someone who has been in the Navy and has made this their life, and for the Sailors that serve, it is a great feeling to be around someone that has served with such honor and distinction in a moment in our nation's history that changed not only the path of America but the entire world," said Zerr. "He was part of a small group of individuals that made a huge different that we have all benefited from our entire lives growing up."

"It's important that Sailors know the history of our nation and get to meet the individuals who gave us our freedom and made history. Their honor, courage and commitment throughout the attack on Pearl Harbor is what gives us the strength to keep going each and every day," said Operations Specialist 2nd Class Heather Johnson. "The reason why I joined the military is because of people like Bruner and what they have done for us. I feel really honored to be here today because not many people get the chance to have this experience."