HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (NNS) -- Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital welcomed Sailors from Pre-Commissioning (PCU) USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109) Nov. 10th.
Sailors stationed aboard Dunham are in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., awaiting their ship's Nov. 13 commissioning ceremony. During their stay in Ft. Lauderdale they have been doing work throughout the South Florida community through several outreach projects.
"We are honored to be here," said Lt. j.g. Alyssa Hood during the luncheon with hospital executives, staff and physicians, prior to the hospital tour. "We save the country and you all save lives. We appreciate the opportunity to be here with you before our commissioning."
After the luncheon, the crew had the opportunity to meet with several of the children and infants in the hospitals' care.
"I love kids," said Gunner's Mate 3rd Class Phillip Williams. "I used to coach basketball before joining the Navy, and I have a fear of hospitals but I had to get over that because I truly wanted to be here to see them today."
Not only were the Sailors excited to see the children, but it proved to be a positive experience for them as well.
"I think it's a great thing for the kids to meet with these Sailors," said Childcare Specialist Shannon McCarthy, "They are like celebrities to them. It means a lot to both the parent and the children that the men and women serving our country want to come out and spend time with them."
For one patient this visit was especially inspirational.
"I feel great having them here," said ninth grader Henry Wright who is pursuing his dream of joining the Navy. "It's amazing to be able to meet and get advice from the people who defend our country. I am happy that they came."
Many members of hospital staff have strong military ties and pride in service. This visit proved to be just as near and dear to their hearts as well.
"It's the uniform and the human touch," said Zeff Ross, Memorial Regional Hospital chief executive officer and former Navy family member. "It's phenomenal. I feel like a kid myself. I am in complete awe of what these Sailors do and greatly honored to be here and that they came."
PCU Dunham's namesake, Cpl. Jason Dunham, was the first Marine to be awarded with the Medal of Honor during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was the first Marine to receive the medal since the Vietnam War. The ship will be officially commissioned Nov. 13 during a ceremony at Port Everglades, Fla.
The commissioning ceremony will be webcast live at the following location: http://www.navy.mil.
For more information on Arleigh Burke class destroyers, visit http://www.navy.mil/navydata/fact_display.asp?cid=4200&tid=900&ct=4.
For more news, visit www.navy.mil.