USS HARRY S. TRUMAN, At Sea (NNS) -- Singer and actress Jessica Simpson visited USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) Oct. 1 during the ship's current deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
The visit, sponsored by Navy Entertainment and the United Services Organization (USO), included several autograph sessions, meals with the crew, and a performance in the ship's hangar bay.
During her visit, eight Truman Sailors and Marines performed for Jessica and several hundred of their shipmates for the chance to perform a duet with her at the Rockefeller Christmas Tree Lighting in November.
The eight Sailors had been selected to sing based on the results of their audition during the carrier's "Truman Idol" talent search, a program modeled after the popular TV show.
Although temperatures in the hangar bay reached well into the upper 90s, the gifted singers had no trouble singing Jessica's special request song: "I'll be Home for Christmas".
"When I auditioned for her I was nervous at first," said Yeoman Seaman Marshondra Miller, the contest runner-up. "After a little while, I realized that she's a person too, so I became more comfortable. I had a really good time singing in front of her, and she gave all the singers nothing but compliments."
Aviation Boatswain's Mate 3rd Class John Britt, USS Harry S. Truman Air department, V-2 division, emerged as the contest winner. Britt's wife and child will be accompanying him to New York to watch his performance and share the experience.
"It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I'm honored to be part of it," said Britt. "I'm excited to be able to represent Truman, as well as the entire Navy. My family and shipmates are proud of me, and I couldn't ask for anything better."
Britt's duet with Jessica will also be featured in her upcoming Christmas album.
"She knows the sacrifices the military men and women are making on behalf of their country, and she wants to do what she can in return," said Joe Simpson, Jessica's father and manager. "She's proud to be able to sing with someone fighting for our freedom."
Capt. Craig Clapperton, USS Harry S. Truman executive officer, said he was honored to have Jessica on board as a guest, and felt she boosted the crew's morale with her heartfelt appreciation of their professionalism and service.
"I got to get my picture taken with her," said Operations Specialist Seaman Jeroy Williams. "It was really amazing to meet a celebrity. She's a lot prettier in real life, but she's shorter than I thought she'd be. She was really nice to everybody, and I'm really glad I was able to meet her."
During a performance in the ship's hangar bay, Jessica thanked the hundreds of Sailors and Marines for their service and shared love of country and sang "God Bless America."
"I've never meet anybody famous before," said Operation Specialist Seaman Alison Wagner. "It's really great that she took the time to come out here to visit us while we were deployed. It definitely lifted my spirits and made me feel a lot better being on deployment."
During a tour of the ship, Jessica also participated in a 50 cal. gun shoot, served as a helmsman on the bridge, and spoke to the crew on the 1-MC. Although she enjoyed everything during her visit, her favorite part, she said, was meeting the crew members.
"I've been on many USO trips," she said, "and I always enjoy sitting and talking with service members. To be on board Truman has been a blessing. I've met so many amazing people, and everybody has been so welcoming and made me feel like I'm at home. I can't express enough how much I appreciate the sacrifices you make for our country."
For more news from USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn75/.