Saturday, September 13, 2014

USS Cheyenne Changes Command

By By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jason Swink,

Submarine Force Pacific Fleet Public Affairs

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (NNS) -- The command of USS Cheyenne (SSN 773) was passed on today, Sept. 12, as Cmdr. Noel Gonzalez was relieved by Cmdr. John Stafford as commanding officer at a change of command ceremony held aboard the Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine at the submarine piers on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

Gonzalez choked back tears as he expressed how proud he is of having had the opportunity to lead his crew.

"I am so proud of you guys," said Gonzalez to his crew. "I don't have the words to tell you how much gratitude I feel for all we have done in the past 30 months."

"You have provided me with unbelievable support and dedication," said Gonzalez. "It has been a privilege and an absolute honor to be your 8th commanding officer."

In command since May 11, 2012, Gonzalez led his submarine to complete a successful Western Pacific deployment, and was awarded the 2013 Battle Efficiency Award.

The ceremony's guest speaker, Adm. Harry Harris, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, praised Gonzalez and his crew.

"From the time he took command, he set out to sharpen this already high-performance crew into one with a reputation of achievement and success," said Harris.

Born in Cuba, Gonzalez emigrated with his family from Camaguey, Cuba, to the United States to pursue a better life.

"Noel, you have certainly lived that dream, from a little boy of 10 that couldn't speak English, to the commanding officer of a nuclear-powered submarine," said Harris. "I hope you continue to tell your story and inspire others you meet to reach for the stars and reach their full potential."

During the ceremony, Gonzalez, who now hails from West Palm Beach, Florida, was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal for his successes in command of Cheyenne from May 2012 to Aug. 2014.

As Stafford assumed command of Cheyenne, he thanked Gonzalez for the state in which Cheyenne and her crew are in.

"No officer could count himself more blessed than to be a member of the Cheyenne family, let alone command this great warship and her fine crew," said Stafford, who calls Staten Island, New York, home.

Homeported in Pearl Harbor, USS Cheyenne is named after the city of Cheyenne, Wyoming, and it is the 62st Los Angeles-class submarine and the 23rd Improved Los Angeles-class attack submarine. The ship's sponsor, Ann Simpson, wife of former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson of Wyoming, christened Cheyenne on April 1, 1995. The ship since, has lived by the city's motto, "Live the Legend."

In 2001, Cheyenne earned the distinction of "first to strike" when she was the first ship to launch Tomahawk missiles in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Since then, the submariners aboard have modified the motto to "Ride the Legend," representative of the warrior spirit of the crew and the pride they take in their mission and sponsor city.

Sailors and Foreign Military Give Back During Star-Spangled Celebration

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Amy Kirk, Navy Public Affairs Support Element East

September 12, 2014 (NNS) -- More than 75 service members from the Navy and Marine Corps, along with military members from Germany, Turkey and Canada, participated in community outreach events Sept. 12 as part of their visit to the city for the Star-Spangled Spectacular.

The service members were on hand to help clean up the area surrounding the National Blacks in Wax Museum and lend a hand at the Habitat for Humanity's ReStore center.

"We were able to come out and do this and it feels fantastic to give back," said Cmdr. Jeffrey Patterson, commanding officer, USS Maryland (SSBN 738).

Patterson worked alongside a small group of Sailors from his command painting and performing minor landscaping for Habitat's ReStore center, a nonprofit home improvement store and donation center that sells new and gently used furniture, home accessories, building materials, and appliances to the public at a fraction of the retail price.

"We have gotten a lot of support over the years from Maryland, but from Baltimore specifically. We wanted a project that not only would be good for us, but also for the community," Patterson added.

A larger group of Sailors and Marines from the USS Oak Hill (LSD 51), USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55) along visiting foreign service members assisted in cleaning up the community surrounding the National Blacks in Wax Museum.

"I think we chose a project that benefits a little bit of everyone, not only the community, but the individuals helping as well," said Chief Petty Officer 2nd Class, Canadian navy. "I've been in the navy for 28 years now and it's been instilled in my personal values to give back to the community.
Service members laughed and joked throughout the event and showed a real spirit of camaraderie with their foreign counter parts. At the core, the mission for all the members was to lend a helping hand to the community.

"It feels good to come out and make a difference," said Cryptologic Technician - Maintenance Chief Jason Patterson. "These types of things have become something I love doing simply because it makes a real difference."

The Star-Spangled Spectacular runs from September 10-16, 2014 and celebrates the bicentennial of the Battle of Baltimore which provided the backdrop of Francis Scott Key's famous poem, "The Defence of Fort McHenry," which later became America's national anthem. Along with more than 30 ships from the U.S. and foreign nations, the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels will be on display and accessible to the public.

Navy Leap Frogs Demonstrate Navy Skills for Baltimore Students in Baltimore

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Amy Kirk, Navy Public Affairs Support Element East

Sept. 12, 2014 (NNS) -- Members of the Navy Parachute Team demonstrated Navy skills Sept. 1 for hundreds of students and faculty at Heritage High School and Reach! Partnership School located on the Lake Clifton Campus in Baltimore.

The team, known as the Leap Frogs, was in Baltimore supporting the Star-Spangled Spectacular, a 7-day free festival celebrating the 200th birthday of the national anthem.

"It's a privilege to be a part of this event. We do a lot of Navy events across the country, but coming to out to Baltimore, it's such a gorgeous city and it's a lot of fun," said Navy SEAL Lt. Dan Gibson. "The team has been looking forward to this trip all year."
The team tours the country throughout the year performing at schools and events to raise Navy awareness and support recruiting.

"We're the face of the Navy United States Navy because you've got a whole fleet out there serving hard and protecting our country and what we hope to do is demonstrate professionalism and excellence of the United States Navy," said Gibson.

The demonstration provided the students with bit of excitement about the military and the opportunities it offers them in training, travel and education.

"It was amazing," said ninth-grader Robin Hodges. "I feel as though maybe I want to give it a try when I grow up. "The Navy is cool."

In addition to the Leap Frogs demonstration, residents and visitors to the city can take part in public visitation of U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ships and attend patriotic concerts and witness an extraordinary fireworks display over Fort McHenry and the Baltimore harbor.

The Star-Spangled Spectacular runs September 10-16, 2014. This event celebrates the bicentennial of the Battle of Baltimore which provided the backdrop for Francis Scott Key's famous poem, "Defence of Fort McHenry," which later became America's national anthem. More than 30 ships from the U.S. and foreign nations, and the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels aircraft will be on display and open to the public.