PORTSMOUTH, Va. (NNS) -- USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) (HST) Sailors were recognized for their service to the community as part of the Junior Achievement (JA) Program Dec. 7.
The JA Program educates and inspires young people to value free enterprise, business and economics to improve the quality of their lives.
One-hundred-twenty three Truman Sailors volunteered more than 550 hours of service as part of this mission to 15,000 students at 12 community schools to teach age-specific curriculum to at-risk children.
Machinists Mate 2nd Class (SW/AW) David Gayton volunteered his time at five of the 12 school visits this year.
"The command wasn't going out doing this looking for recognition," Gayton said. "It was more about getting out there and educating the children. When we show up in our dress blues, the kids were so intrigued and interested that despite what their background may have been, it all came together in the classroom for the day."
With a sense of humility, Gayton talked about what it was like to be there and see the kids captivated by the Sailors.
"We were all one big group. I might even say a family the way we came together," Gayton said.
Kevin Will, the education director of Junior Achievement for Greater Hampton Roads, visited the ship to present the Sailors with a framed letter of appreciation.
"I can't thank the Truman Sailors enough. We [Junior Achievement] have had nothing but positive feedback from the schools. They are all requesting the Truman Sailors specifically come back," Will said.
Chief Aviation Machinist's Mate (AW) Nedinardo Tua, Truman's volunteer services coordinator, accepted the award on behalf of all the volunteers and the command.
"This is not just me up here. This is the whole ship getting this done," Tua said.
Aviations Boatswain's Mate Airman Robert Witcher, a JA volunteer, talked about how it feels to be a part of something bigger than him.
"It makes me feel great to be able to help out other people's lives," Witcher said. "We received so many letters from kids telling us how they have new role models now. They told us how they learned so much from us talking about the Navy and the classes we taught."
For related news, visit the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn75/.