PORTSMOUTH, Va. (NNS) -- Being named "Sailor of the Year" for any Navy command usually comes with a lot of prestige, honor and pride. For USS Enterprise (CVN 65) Sailors of the Year (SOY), it also comes with "lights, camera and action!"
Three Enterprise Sailors of the Year were given the star treatment when they were given walk-on roles on the Paramount Television series "Enterprise."
The fifth Star Trek television series, "Enterprise" takes place several decades after Earth's first successful, faster-than-light space flight. The starship Enterprise, NX-01, inaugurates a new age of discovery for the human race, boldly going where no man has gone before.
"We're the pretend Enterprise, they're the real deal," Enterprise star Scott Bakula said. "It's a great opportunity for them to become a part of our Enterprise and for us to be connected to them."
The aircraft carrier and the television series share a lot in common other than its namesake. Both represent the ideas of honor, courage and commitment in this century and the next. But to these Sailors of the Year (SOYs), it's more than a name. It's an opportunity of a lifetime.
"This is a life's dream, a once-in-a-lifetime experience," said Enterprise's Junior Sailor of the Year Aviation Administrationman 2nd Class(AW/SW) James D. Frey. "You can't get any closer to Star Trek than this."
According to Navy Counselor 1st Class (SW/AW) Kathy J. Grant, Enterprise's Senior Sailor of the Year, no other ship in the Navy has the connection to something like this.
"How many other SOYs get to do something like this?" the Huntingdon, Pa., native said. "Because our ship is synonymous with the TV show, we get to participate in a unique experience like this."
When her family found out about her trip to the set, they became her biggest fans. "My nephew told all of the kids at his school his aunt was going to be on Star Trek," she said. "That makes the experience even more of a thrill for me."
Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Thomas P. Hunt, Enterprise's Bluejacket of the Year, agrees this is something he'll be able to share with family and friends years from now. "This will be on reruns for years to come," the Tucson, Ariz., native said. "When I'm 60, I'll be able to say, 'hey, that's me on Enterprise.'"
The episode entitled "First Flight" is scheduled to air May 14. According to Bakula, the Sailors acted like professionals during their scene. "They did a great job, a wonderful job," he exclaimed. "They were very prominent in the scene."
"It's a lot like being in the military, at times," Grant said about her experience on the set. "You're rushing around, working hard, followed by long lulls of waiting and anticipation of what's next."
Frey added, "It gives you a new appreciation of what goes into a production. I don't think I'll ever look at another episode of Enterprise the same way again."
During a break in the day's shooting, the three Sailors presented Bakula, director LeVar Burton and actor Connor Trinneer, who plays Chief Engineer Charles "Trip" Tucker III, with a flag flown on Enterprise. The flag was flown in their honor as gratitude for all the support and encouragement the cast, crew and actors of Enterprise have given the Sailors of the carrier Enterprise.
"This is the second year in a row we've done this," Bakula said. "It's a fantastic way of rewarding these qualified, high performing Sailors."
After the lights were dimmed and the cameras stopped, these three Enterprise Sailors were still the same Sailors they were before. But now, they are a part of the myth and history that is Star Trek.
For related news, visit the USS Enterprise (CVN 65) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn65.