USS CARL VINSON, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors on board Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) welcomed a comedian and prop comic aboard Feb. 10 during the ship's deployment to the 5th Fleet Area of Responsibility (AOR) in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Leo Gallagher, noted for his signature "Sledge-O-Matic" sketch involving smashing objects with a large mallet, made a long journey during the course of a week for his first visit to a U.S. Navy ship.
"I went to Okinawa, then to Tokyo, then I flew 11 hours to Istanbul, five hours to Bahrain and two and a half hours here. I don't know if I've been up all night or if I've had a long day," said Gallagher. "I like being on the ship. This is a floating city."
Gallagher began his first day aboard Carl Vinson meeting with Sailors in their work spaces. Gallagher finished his first day with a visit to the ship's Medical Department to observe a simulated casualty response.
Gallagher met the Sailors of Aviation Intermediate Maintenance Department (AIMD) in the hangar bays and jet shop and then took the opportunity to meet Carl Vinson Sailors on the aft mess decks for two autograph and photo sessions Feb. 11. At 8:00 p.m., he took the stage in Hangar Bay 2 to perform his signature show with hundreds of Sailors in attendance. The hour-long routine involved jokes and Gallagher's prop comedy, with several Sailors invited on stage to participate in the sketches.
Aircrew Survival Equipmentman 1st Class (AW) Jamie Faulkner, a Joliet, Ill., native assigned to Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 125, expressed his appreciation for being able to meet the comic.
"You gotta love it. It's a big morale booster to make that extra effort to make us happy," said Faulkner. "Things change with the younger generation, and to have someone who's been around as long as Gallagher was a different flavor but there's still good humor. Our day check and night check were both able to show up."
Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class Brandon Trusty, a Nashville, Tenn., native assigned to Weapons Department, was excited to meet a comedic influence.
"I do some stand-up comedy myself, and Gallagher was the first comedian I watched. I was nervous standing next to him and taking a picture," said Trusty. "When I was little, I just saw a guy smashing watermelons and stuff on stage, and that was cool to see. Then I got older and started listening to the jokes, and I realized what he was all about. He carries an old-school comedy style, and it's surprising how funny that can still be."
With Sailors like Trusty working to directly support Carl Vinson's air operations in Afghanistan, the opportunity to take a break and have some fun was welcome.
"For anyone, this is a morale booster. I work on the flight deck, and it's a stressful place. This is a complete break from that," said Trusty.
Gallagher expressed his appreciation for the opportunity to perform for Sailors.
"I wanted to visit some Americans who were not in America, and entertain them where they were. They're appreciative, polite, and deserve to have entertainers come out and brighten their day, so I'm out here doing my part," said Gallagher.
For Gallagher, one highlight was listening to the stories of Sailors growing up and experiencing his work.
"I like hearing they appreciate me coming out. I appreciate when they tell me they saw me when they were kids. They heard their first dirty jokes from me, or their dad used to sit with them and watch my shows. I have some new material, and I figure why make a video when I can tell it to them live," said Gallagher.
Gallagher's trip to the carrier was coordinated by Navy Entertainment. Carl Vinson and embarked Carrier Air Wing 17 are deployed to the 5th Fleet AOR to support theater and maritime security operations.
For more news from USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn70/.