KANSAS CITY, Mo. (NNS) -- U.S. Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Sailors interacted with visitors from the inside of an aquarium tank at the Kansas City Sea Life Aquarium, Aug. 20-21.
"When you're in the usual military city nobody thinks twice about it," said Senior Chief Explosive Ordnance Disposal Roy Vanek, assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group (EODGRU) 1. "But, here it's been great, people are extremely friendly and very appreciative of the military."
Sailors assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 3 and EODGRU 1, both homeported in Coronado, California, performed six dives over the two-day event.
The special dives were part of events planned during Kansas City Navy Week, which coincides with the performance of the U.S. Navy flight demonstration squadron, the Blue Angels, at the Kansas City Aviation Expo and runs through, Aug. 23.
While in the aquarium the Sailors played tic-tac-toe, wrote messages and interacted with guests.
"It's neat how he interacted with the kids and made it so special," said Dawn Tinklepaugh, from Leavenworth, Kansas. "My son really enjoyed beating him at tic-tac-toe, he was such a good sport."
Besides playing tic-tac-toe, Tinklepaugh and her children wrote a message to Vanek, thanking him for his service and explaining that her husband was currently deployed in Afghanistan.
"She wrote us a big letter, and that's why I saluted her. I'm glad that we could make her day," said Vanek.
Tinklepaugh said it was a touching gesture that she couldn't wait to share with her husband.
"I'm so glad we came," she said. "It's a moment to remember forever."
During the week the EOD Sailors also visited some of the local high schools, Boys and Girls Clubs and YMCAs.
"Everyone was really interested and loved what we do," said Explosive Ordnance Disposal 3rd Class Mark Ghilici, assigned to EODMU 3. "It was a good time showing everyone what we actually do. Letting everyone know that it's a good time, but also it's hard work."
They gave kids a hands-on experience showing them the capabilities of some of their EOD equipment, including the small unmanned ground vehicle (SUG-V) and the Talon robotic system.
Vanek said there are only 2,000 EOD Sailors in the entire Navy so it was a rare opportunity for them to be able to participate in the Kansas City Navy Week.
"This is not our usual TAD [temporary assigned duty] trip to go dive in the aquarium and talk to kids. Usually it's train, train, and more training and long hours and hard work, but that's why we do the job."
Navy Weeks are designed to educate Americans on the importance of Naval service and help them understand the investment they make in their Navy. They are held in cities that might not otherwise see Navy Sailors at work on a regular basis.
Kansas City is one of 12 cities selected to host a 2015 Navy Week, which is coordinated by the Navy Office of Community Outreach (NAVCO). NAVCO is a unit tasked with enhancing the Navy's brand image in areas with limited exposure to the Navy.