KOPER, Slovenia (NNS) -- With picturesque, snow-capped mountains and a crisp blue sky for a backdrop, more than 5,500 Sailors and Marines assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) and Carrier Air Wing 3 enjoyed a port visit to Koper, Slovenia, and surrounding towns.
The ship pulled into the small country on the Adriatic Sea for a scheduled port visit Jan. 31. While in port, Sailors and Marines were able to enjoy the old-world European culture of Slovenia and even take excursions to nearby Italy and other countries.
Air Traffic Controller 2nd Class (AW) Erika Rogers from Chicago, Ill., and Air Traffic Controller 1st Class Shirley Barraclough of Virginia Beach, Va., took a Morale, Welfare and Recreation tour to Germany and Austria.
"In Salzburg, Austria, we saw the church where Mozart was baptized," said Rogers. "It was really beautiful, and we were able to see the transition in art and architecture throughout the years. I learned a lot."
"We also visited a concentration camp in Dachau," Barraclough said. "They showed us a video on the camp, and I had a much greater understanding for what went on during World War II. We actually saw authentic items the prisoners had left in the camp."
Young Sailors and Marines on their first deployment were excited about the opportunity to visit another foreign port. "I joined the Navy to see other cultures, and I got to see both Slovenia and Italy on this port visit," said Airman Billy-John Manluku of Panpanga, Philippines. "The people were really nice to us."
"The locals took me in like I was one of their own," agreed Command Master Chief (AW/SW) Joe Clough, a Wilmington, Del., native. "Our two cultures worked extremely well together, and I was also impressed with the cleanliness of the city and the beautiful countryside."
While exploring the small towns and villages of Slovenia, Sailors and Marines had to bundle up against what the Slovenes call "borja," a fierce mountain wind.
"It was really cold!" said Aviation Ordnance Technician 2nd Class Nate Lovett of St. Petersburg, Fla. "But the people were great, and the food was good and reasonably priced, so once you got inside somewhere, it was easy to warm up."
The friendly people and breathtaking scenery also helped the Truman team enjoy another facet of the port visit-- the chance to relax.
"It was great to have the time off. It was a nice break from the normal routine. The people were really friendly, and we even exchanged gifts on the last day," said Sgt. James Torres, a San Antonio, Texas, native.
The ship and air wing are the main components of the Truman Battle Group, which left its home port of Norfolk, Va., Dec. 5 for a regularly scheduled six-month deployment.
This is the ship's second Mediterranean cruise since its commissioning in July 1998. In addition to the more than 3,200 Sailors that make up the carrier crew, the air wing is comprised of eight squadrons with more than 70 aircraft and 1,800 Sailors and Marines.
Following the port visit, the battle group continues to take part in training exercises and operations in the Mediterranean Sea under the command of 6th Fleet.
For related news, visit the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn75.