SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (NNS) -- Forty Sailors from USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) and their families, took part in a special two-day informational tour July 12-13, at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum as well as “Rancho de Cielo” near Santa Barbara.
The event, sponsored by the Santa Barbara Council of the Navy League of the United States (SBNL), allowed Ronald Reagan crew members to visit the historic sites that play an important role in preserving the history of the ship’s namesake.
Karen Crawford, president of the SBNL, said the visit was not only to help educate the crew about Ronald Reagan, but also to give the SBNL a chance to put faces on the crew that serves aboard the ship that bears his name.
"We adopted USS Ronald Reagan in 2000, and we have a special relationship with the ship and its crew," said Crawford. "We keep in contact with the ship with things such as Sailor of the Week and newsletters, but you can’t understand the dedication of these Sailors until you meet them face to face.”
Many of the quality of life improvements on board Ronald Reagan, such as flat screen televisions, have been the result of donations from SBNL members.
According to Lt. Cmdr. Amos Hardy, Ronald Reagan’s combat systems information officer and trip coordinator, the SBNL wanted the crew of Ronald Reagan to make the trip earlier this year but an unplanned surge deployment delayed the trip until July.
Sailors who attended the special event said they were impressed by the hospitality of the SBNL, whose members greeted the Sailors at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum with open arms and words of gratitude for their service in the armed forces.
"The Santa Barbara Navy League is great. Just seeing everything that they've done for us makes me feel like I don't deserve any of this," said Information Systems Technician Seaman Mohamed Alshibani, Ronald Reagan's current Blue Jacket of the Quarter.
As a young 19 year-old Sailor, Alshibani said he has never had the opportunity to study the history of the ship’s namesake. SBNL officials said they have taken it upon themselves to help educate the ship’s crew about the legacy of Ronald Reagan.
“Being here and seeing so many people passionate about Ronald Reagan really inspires me and makes me proud to be part of Ronald Reagan," said Alshibani.
At the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum, Sailors were able to see a detailed history of Ronald Reagan's contributions to the American people from his early years as an actor to his announcement to the people about his battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
Sailors and their families were also allowed to visit Rancho de Cielo, the ranch once owned by Ronald Reagan. The ranch is now owned and maintained by the Young President’s Foundation and is not open to the general public.
At the ranch, Sailors and their families were allowed to tour the ranch house and surrounding grounds that was known as the “Western White House” during the Regan administration. John Barletta, a retired U.S. Secret Service agent who provided security for Ronald Reagan and the author of "Riding with Ronald Reagan," was also at the ranch to talk with Sailors.
"This was a unique opportunity," said Information Systems Technician 1st Class (SW/AW) Phyllis Bushong, a Sailor assigned to Ronald Reagan’s Combat Systems Department. "This trip really shows the command’s emphasis of informing its Sailors of the legacy of Ronald Reagan."
USS Ronald Reagan is currently undergoing a Planned Incremental Availability plus Docking in her homeport of San Diego following a three-month surge deployment in support of operations in the western Pacific.
For more news from USS Ronald Reagan, visit www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn76/.