ABOARD USS HARRY S. TRUMAN, At Sea (NNS) -- Seventy Sailors and Marines aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) met and dined with congressmen from their home states April 23, during an informal lunch on the aft mess decks.
For Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert and the other congressmen, the lunch gave the visiting political figures a chance to show their gratitude to the Truman/Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 3 team for their crucial support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
"The crew of HST (Truman) played a major role in this operation in Iraq, and we are here to say thank you," Hastert said. "We have seen pictures of the ground troops all the time, but the thousands of men and women on this ship made their victory possible."
The relaxed atmosphere of the mess decks allowed the congressmen and the Sailors and Marines to ease into conversations that flowed outside the realm of politics. For others, it was just satisfying that they shared a moment with their state representatives.
"It's been a real honor and special experience to have Congressman Norman Dicks come out," said Mess Management Specialist 3rd Class Raymond Irving, of Tacoma, Wash. "I am grateful for the opportunity. He is very pro-Navy and is very active with our naval bases in Washington."
"I think the crew of HST has done an outstanding job with its combat missions," said Dicks. "This ship reaffirms in the mind the importance of aircraft carriers and the fine men and women that run them. The most important aspect of this ship is the crew's ability to make it run so smoothly. I feel very proud of the people that serve on this carrier and the jobs that they do for their country."
For Seaman Jessica Martz of Portsmouth, Ohio, the visit was not only an opportunity for HST to shine, but it also lifted the morale of the crew. "It's good to know that our state is behind us by coming out here and supporting us," she said. "They have taken time to talk to people from different parts of Ohio. It shows that they care."
The distinguished visitors toured several spaces throughout the ship prior to and after lunch, giving the visiting congressmen and women a further appreciation of the hard work and dedication of its crew. The visit included an air power demonstration, where they witnessed the awesome power used during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The Speaker of the House was duly impressed by his visit to Truman. "I am always proud when I come aboard these ships, and see the crew and the great attitudes and support for their country that they have," he said. "Back home, we think of you as heroes."
For related news, visit the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn75.