WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Six USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) Sailors were recognized by the Stennis Center for Public Service Leadership for their accomplishments during a visit to Washington April 25 - 28.
The Stennis Center for Public Service is a federal, legislative branch agency created by Congress in 1988 to promote and strengthen public service leadership in America. The Stennis Center began an aircraft carrier leadership program in 1995 to recognize the leadership of outstanding Sailors and strengthen the bond between civilian and military leaders.
The trip included a meeting with Adm. Kirkland H. Donald, director of Naval Nuclear Propulsion, tours of the Pentagon and Capitol and visits to several national monuments. Truman Sailors also had the opportunity to meet with Sen. Kit Bond from Missouri, home state of President Harry S. Truman, the ship's namesake.
Award recipients were led by Capt. Joseph Clarkson, Truman commanding officer, and Truman Command Master Chief Loran Bather.
"The program is fantastic for our award-winning Sailors and their spouses – a chance to spend a few days in our nation's capital and an opportunity to see our government leaders at work," said Clarkson. "Washington D.C. is a beautiful city full of history and it is great for our Sailors to get a chance to enjoy it".
The experience was particularly meaningful to Truman award winners as the aircraft carrier prepares for a spring deployment.
"It's easy for Sailors to forget how important what they are doing is," said Aviation Electronics Technician 1st Class LeRon Robinson, of St. Louis, Mo. "Seeing the Pentagon and seeing how Sailors contributed to our nation's history gives you a new awareness for what it means to serve. I hope I can communicate that experience to Sailors when we get back."
Although Robinson, Truman's Sailor of the Year 2009, has been stationed in Virginia for more than 10 years, the trip marked the first time he had been to Washington.
"I would love for more Sailors to experience D.C. and have that sense of pride", said Robinson. "Many times we get wrapped up in daily work and — especially in a Navy town — you can forget what it means to civilians to see you wear the uniform."
Truman Sailors were amazed at the reception they received while visiting the city, and appreciated how warmly they were welcomed. While waiting at a Metro stop, passengers expressed their thanks to the Sailors, and school children called out greetings as they crossed the street.
For Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Thomas Vaningen, from Holland, Mich., a defining moment of the trip was realizing the importance of the role Navy corpsmen have in U.S. military history.
"One of the tour guides at the Capitol building recognized the caduceus on my uniform and told me that when he was injured in Vietnam they evacuated him to a Navy ship for treatment," said Vaningen. "You realize that when you are wearing the uniform you really are representing something bigger than yourself. You do everything you can to communicate your pride and professionalism though your bearing and actions."
Truman award recipients for 2008 and 2009 included Robinson, Vaningen, Senior Chief Aviation Machinist's Mate Lora Porter, Chief Aviation Electrician's Mate Shannon Thoftne, Interior Communications Electrician 1st Class Michael Bishop and Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Fuels) 2nd Class Malisha Donahue-Fields.
For more news from USS Harry S. Truman, visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn75/.