Sunday, May 24, 2015

GW Receives Handmade Torah from Retired Rear Admiral

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Brian Sloan

WATERS SOUTH OF JAPAN (NNS) -- The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) received a new handmade Torah from the Jewish Welfare Board (JWB) and the Jewish Communities Center Association headquartered in New York City.

The Torah contains the five books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, and is a crucial component for studying and practicing the Jewish faith.

"It is my honor and pleasure to memorialize the gift of the New York Police Department Torah to USS George Washington," said retired Rear Adm. Harold Robinson, a Rabbi who currently serves as the director on the JWB Jewish Chaplains Council. "I fully understand the risks to the Torah that come with placing it aboard a warship. I accept those risks."

Robinson hand carried the new Torah from New York City to Yokosuka, Japan and presented the sacred text to the Jewish community aboard George Washington.

"There was a lot of coordination that took place to get the new Torah aboard George Washington," said Lt. Cole Yoos, a George Washington chaplain. "The Command Religious Ministries Department and Cmdr. Ronnie Citro, our former dental officer, were in close contact with Rabbi Robinson and the Jewish Chaplains Council for several months."

Additionally, the process of making a Torah requires a lot of care and attention to detail.

"The reason Torahs are so valuable is because they are made the exact same way that they were made 3,000 years ago," said Aviation Electronics Technician 3rd Class Zachary Rosen, the Jewish lay leader aboard George Washington. "Each Torah is handwritten on an animal hide by a scribe who has several years of training. If a single letter is skewed, the scribe must rewrite the entire section. Because of that, writing an entire Torah typically takes a year and a half to 2 years to complete."

Hull Technician 2nd Class Thomas Nunez, from Katy, Texas, and Hull Technician 3rd Class Shawn Dilldine, from Claremore, Okla., played a crucial role in the construction of a wooden Ark which holds George Washington's new Torah.

"It was a good challenge for us," said Nunez.

"We had to do a good amount of research and make several very precise measurements," added Dilldine.

After all the hard work toward building and acquiring the new Torah, George Washington's Jewish community said they felt better equipped to practice their faith.

"It gives our Jewish community a new level of worship and study because Judaism is based largely around studying the Torah," said Rosen. "It's a very special gift that we will be honored to use for several services in the future."

George Washington and its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, are on patrol in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. George Washington will conduct a hull-swap with the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) later this year after serving seven years as the U.S. Navy's only forward-deployed aircraft carrier in Yokosuka, Japan.

"Zero to Full Speed": Carrier Air Wing 5, George Washington Completes Carrier Qualifications

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Paolo Bayas

PHILIPPINE SEA (NNS) -- Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 and the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) completed its carrier qualifications (CQ), May 23.

CQ allows CVW 5 pilots and George Washington's flight deck crew to prove accuracy and proficiency in successfully landing and recovering aircraft.

"We don't have the luxury of crawl-walk-run in the forward-deployed Navy," said Lt. Eric Alexander, flight deck officer aboard George Washington. "We are running straight out of the gate and CQ is very important because it allows us to perform what we have been training our crew for a while we were in port."

According to Alexander, being a part of forward-deployed naval forces include having high expectations for the crew to always be trained and well prepared to operate at sea even during the ship's six-month maintenance period.

"I am impressed with [George Washington's] rapid sortie and proficiency regeneration capability," said Capt. William Koyama, commander, CVW-5. "No other carrier can do it. I expect that the pilots and crew must always be looking for training opportunities and be creative in planning and executing them. They never let me down."

Koyama added that CVW 5 is constantly on the hook for operational orders from higher headquarters and squeezes in tactical training flights when possible when they are not operating aboard an aircraft carrier. However, the priority is real world operational tasking 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year.

"We have to do this because we are always deployed," said Koyama. "We do not get gradual work ups prior to cruise, so we have to be ready to quickly complete CQ and then get on with the business at hand. [George Washington] literally goes from zero to full speed on day one. We have to be ready to integrate as a team all the time. That's what's behind the "911" nickname we have."

Behind-the-scenes training and planning allowed George Washington to successfully perform approximately 100 arrested landings on the very first day of CQ, according to Alexander,

"Tactically, the air wing is virtually always ready to respond to an emergency or crisis because we are always in a 'sustainment' phase," said Koyama. "We reach the pinnacle when we are on the ship and operating full speed. When we are with [the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76)], we will need to build that new team, and the portion of the crew that comes over will have to learn a new paradigm."

George Washington and its embarked air wing, CVW-5, are on patrol in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. George Washington will conduct a hull-swap with the Ronald Reagan later this year after serving seven years as the U.S. Navy's only forward-deployed aircraft carrier in Yokosuka, Japan

Operation Cookie Drop comes to Fleet Week New York

By By MC1 (AW/SW) Gina K Danals, Fleet Week New York Public Affairs

NEW YORK (NNS) -- More than 50 Girl Scouts and troop leaders from the Heart of Hudson Council delivered Girl Scout Cookies to Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen aboard USS San Antonio (LPD 17) and U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Spencer (WMEC 905) as a part of Operation Cookie Drop during Fleet Week New York, May 23.

Operation Cookie Drop is a way the organization, and its supporters, thank military members for all of their hard work. Nearly 90,000 boxes of cookies have been donated this year.

Troop leader Alison Bergman said that being able to deliver cookies in person makes the experience far more rewarding to the Scouts.

"This is a wonderful opportunity for the girls to show their support for our troops," she said. "This is how the girls say thank you for protecting us."

The program started in 2002 with around 100 donations and has since grown into a much anticipated event.

"We hear stories from Sailors who say getting a box of cookies is something that helps make their day better," said troop leader Donna Hannan. "It's amazing that what started as just a small idea has grown into a wonderful project."

After delivering the cookies, the Scouts received a special tour on both San Antonio and Spencer. Their visit was extra special because they were also able to view a planned Coast Guard search and rescue team demonstration from the forecastle.

"Most of us don't live in a military area, so we don't get to see men and woman in uniform very often," Bergman explained. "Being here and seeing this demonstration is a wonderful way for the project to come full circle."

Although the Scouts and leaders were eager to tour the ships, the service members were equally thrilled to spend time with the troops.

"It means everything to have these young girls' support," said Coast Guard Ens. Lauren Young. "It's wonderful to feel the appreciation from them and to be able to share with them what we do."

Julia, a junior in high school who has been a Girl Scout for 13 years and involved in Operation Cookie Drop since 2012, said just to come out and see everyone smiling when they receive their cookies gives her a wonderful feeling.

"It's an amazing experience to come on board the ship and see where the service members live, sleep and eat," she said. "It's even more rewarding to see how happy they are when they get all the cookies we bring them ... you can never have enough Girl Scout cookies."