As Navy Celebrates Legacy, Truman Sailors Focus on Mission

Story Number: NNS091015-30Release Date: 10/15/2009 9:28:00 PM
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By Mass Communication Specialist Jared Hall, USS Harry S. Truman Public Affairs

NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- Sailors aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) celebrated the Navy's 234th birthday Oct. 13 during a cake-cutting ceremony on the ship's mess decks.

"It's always important to remember where you came from whether it's your own personal history or the history of the organization you work for," said Capt. Joseph Clarkson, Truman's commanding officer, who presided over the ceremony. "The things the Continental Navy was doing 234 years ago, we're still doing today. We are very proud of today's Navy and we know the patriots back in 1775 were proud of their Navy too."

On Oct. 13, 1775, the Continental Congress commissioned USS Alfred, a man-of-war from Philadelphia, to attempt to intercept and disrupt the transport of British war supplies. They could not successfully battle British warships, but they could harass England's supply ships.

To facilitate Sailors' appreciation of naval history, Truman's Executive Officer Capt. John Meier offered a challenge. He said he would give the first person who could tell him the name of the ship first commissioned by the Continental Congress in 1775 a free soda and his or her pick of song played during the next morning's cleaning stations, dubbed "happy hour" by the ship's crew.

When Aviation Boatswain's Mate [Handling] Airman Michael Mullins stepped forward and correctly answered, "the Alfred," he was invited to help cut the cake and awarded the first slice.

Mullins, who celebrated his first Navy birthday as an active duty service member Oct. 13, said he was surprised he was able to have the first slice and that he must have been at the right place at the right time.

"I actually originally thought it was the USS Constitution. Another one of my shipmates informed me that it wasn't, and I have to give credit to ABH3 (Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) 3rd Class) Deebs because he's the one who knew what the ship was," said Mullins.

The trivia question, the cake and the ceremony were just a few of the ways the command brought Truman Sailors together and to build their cohesiveness as a crew, said Assistant Supply Officer Lt. Cmdr. Mark Garrigus.

"It builds the esprit de corps and lets everybody know that they are part of something bigger than themselves, their department or even the ship itself," Garrigus said.

On the day that Sailors took time to reflect on their shared history, Clarkson said they should also focus on the future, especially as Truman recently completed its Joint Task Force Exercise and is now ready for its upcoming deployment.

"It's important for the crew of Harry S. Truman to focus on the fact that we completed our training plan, our fleet response plan and we are the surge ready carrier," said Clarkson. "We think we are going to deploy next year, but we could go next week, so it's always important to think about where we're headed next and remember those core missions that we will be called on to respond to very shortly."

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