ABOARD USS RONALD REAGAN (NNS) -- More than 80 Pearl Harbor survivors, their family members and friends were given a guided tour of USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), Aug. 11.
The ship's newly appointed chief petty officer selectees welcomed the veterans and conducted the tour.
Shortly after arriving aboard, the honored guests were seated in Hangar Bay 2 for a short video presentation and welcome speeches from Ronald Reagan Executive Officer Capt. Andres Brugal and Command Master Chief Kathy Hansen.
"It was an honor for Ronald Reagan to host these great Americans who gave so much during one of the largest times of crisis for the United States of America," said Brugal. "I felt especially privileged, and their visit renewed my dedication to serving in this great Navy."
A look of awe passed across the faces of the honored guests as they walked across the brow. While greeting Sailors and asking questions, they were surprised at the modern technology of today's Navy.
"I'm really impressed by the size of the ship, its efficiency and the youth of its crew," said Bill Craddock, Pearl Harbor survivor. "Ronald Reagan's stamp of 'peace through strength' stands true; our nation's strength makes us the world's policeman. Although we may not like it, it's up to us to keep freedom's threats in check."
"It's such an overwhelming moment...I can't think of what to say to these young Sailors," said John Morrill Jr., a 24-year Navy veteran and Pearl Harbor survivor. "This ship outclasses every Navy vessel I've ever been on - it's a magnificent giant!"
The chief petty officer selectees were honored by the Navy veterans' visit and gladly shared their experiences.
"As a Sailor, it's a humble feeling to share your stories with these heroes," said Chief Storekeeper (sel.) Derrick Martin, supply department.
According to Martin, chief petty officer selectees will give a special presentation to Pearl Harbor survivors Aug. 26. The presentation will portray the events of USS Arizona (BB 39), USS Oklahoma (BB 37) and actions of John Flynn, Medal of Honor recipient, during the attack on Pearl Harbor.
"It's our duty to remember these veterans and their tribute to our country," said Martin.
"I'm your past, and you are my future," said 103-year-old Ray Ereneta, one of the oldest known living Pearl Harbor survivors.
Having these heroes aboard and telling them the stories of today's Navy was something participating crewmembers could be proud of.
For related news, visit the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn76.