By Kayla Good, Navy Office of Community Outreach Public Affairs
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (NNS) -- The world's largest Navy arrived to the "City of Fountains," Aug. 17, to begin Kansas City Navy Week, a week-long series of community and outreach events.
Navy weeks focus a variety of assets, equipment and personnel on a single city, to bring America's Navy closer to the people it protects.
The events and special programs to take place throughout the Kansas City, Misouri area are the culmination of planning and preparation over many months by the Navy Office of Community Outreach, multiple Navy assets, and Kansas City community leaders.
"Our goal is to share the Navy's story through engagements by senior Navy leaders, U.S. Navy Parachute Team, explosive ordinance disposal technicians, Navy divers, and USS Constitution and namesake Sailors," said Gary Ross, lead planner of Kansas City Navy Week.
Vice Adm. William Hilarides, commander, Naval Sea Systems Command, will received a mayoral proclamation to kick off the week during Navy Night, Aug. 18, at the National World War I Memorial and Museum. This free, public event will feature U.S. Navy Band Southeast and other Sailors, who will honor the accomplishments and sacrifices of WWI veterans.
"The band's goal is to perform one of our most important missions -- community outreach," said Master Chief Musician Vincent Burrell, assistant director of Navy Band Southeast. "Kansas City Navy Week is a prime example of the opportunities we have to showcase the talents of our Sailors, who are truly outstanding Navy Ambassadors."
Shawnee, Kan. native Rear Adm. Mark Darrah, program executive officer for Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons, will return to his hometown for Navy week.
"Kansas City Navy Week provides me the opportunity to give back to a community which helped establish the educational foundation that enabled me to serve my country," the admiral said. "To be able to return to Kansas City and share my Navy experiences is an amazing opportunity. I am fortunate to spend a few days here to thank those in my home state who continue to produce exceptional people who may someday join our great Navy."
Sailors from Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman will be involved in several community outreach projects throughout the week, including a build for Habitat for Humanity, and visits with the Boy Scouts and the Boys and Girls Club of Kansas City. They will also volunteer for After the Harvest, where Sailors will deliver leftover produce from local farmers to food banks throughout the Kansas City area.
"It's a pretty big deal, and humbling, to be selected from a crew of about 3,000 Sailors to represent them by returning to my hometown," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Equipment) Airman Ross Taylor. "I look forward to sharing my stories about my job and work on the flight deck. It's really exciting."
Truman Sailors will also work with explosive ordnance disposal technicians and Navy divers at the Sea Life Aquarium. On Aug. 20-21, attendees at the aquarium will have a unique opportunity to see diving demonstrations and talk one on one with Sailors.
Additionally, the U.S. Navy Parachute Team, the Leap Frogs, will execute several aerial demonstrations, including pre-game jumps at Friday's Kansas City Chiefs vs. Seattle Seahawks football game and Saturday's Parkville Days celebration at English Landing Park.
The Kansas City Aviation Expo Air Show will also feature the Leap Frogs, Aug. 23, along with the Navy's flight demonstration squadron, the Blue Angels. Gates open at 9 a.m. at the Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport.
Historically, Navy week events draw thousands of attendees to participate and create a dialogue between Sailors and local residents.
"Several businesses, local government, educational institutions and local sports organizations have graciously invited our Navy Week team to visit with them," added Darrah. "My goal is to ensure they all know what role they play in encouraging and preparing young people from the Kansas City area to contribute to strengthening the foundation of what our country was built on....innovation, entrepreneurial spirit and a strong desire to serve whether in uniform or as a citizen. And, of course, to have a better understanding of the role our Navy is playing across the world."
Kansas City Navy Week is the eighth of only 12 Navy weeks in 2015.