KINGS BAY, Ga. (NNS) -- Crew members of the USS West Virginia (SSBN 736) (Blue) supported their namesake Jan. 1 at college football's Konica Minolta Gator Bowl at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium at Bill Gay Field in Jacksonville, Fla.
The West Virginia University (WVU) Mountaineers faced off against the Florida State Seminoles in college football's 65th Gator Bowl.
Cmdr. Mike Katahara, commanding officer of West Virginia (Blue), and six other crew members cheered on a team that personifies the teamwork, camaraderie and work ethic that is a trademark of West Virginia's relationship with its namesake state.
"Although the outcome was not as desired, it was great having the opportunity to join in celebrating the awesome career of a great leader, football coach and former West Virginia University coach, Bobby Bowden," said Katahara.
West Virginia memorabilia, especially WVU Mountaineers trinkets, decorate the interior of the ballistic missile submarine. The most recent addition was a hand carved statue of the university's mascot that was presented to Cmdr. Steven Hall, commanding officer of West Virginia (Gold), by WVU President James Clements during the crew's visit to the university in September 2009.
Blue and Gold crew members regularly return to the state of West Virginia to participate in parades, community service projects and to mentor at the West Virginia Children's Home (WVCH).
West Virginia's commissioning crew established a relationship with the WVCH in 1990. WVCH Director Carson Markley, who attended the ship's commissioning, appreciates the special bond between the ship and the WVCH.
"The children at the West Virginia Children's Home have generally been neglected, abused and feel that no one cares for them. The crew of USS West Virginia almost immediately, upon arriving at the home, began to show concern and a real understanding for not just a few, but all the kids they come into contact with," said Markley.
West Virginia's Blue crew is looking forward to a planned visit to the state of West Virginia at the end of January 2010.
For more news from Commander, Submarine Group 10, visit www.navy.mil/local/csg10/.