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BILLINGS, Mont. – Sailors assigned to the Freedom-variant littoral combat ship USS Billings (LCS 15) visited their ship’s namesake city November 08-13, 2022, and participated in Veterans Day celebratory events.
During the visit, CDR Brett Seeley, LT Jeremy Brooks, LT Brad Nye, CWO4 Benjamin Wolff, CMDCS Adam Barman, BMC Hector Najera, QMC Isac Awini, BM1 Courtney Austin, CS1 Gregory Simmons, GM1 Brad Westcott, HT1 Aundrea Clark, MN1 Ashlee Hutt, EM2 Eddie Brannum, MN2 Kevin Carpenter, MN2 Justin Hovarter, MN2 Randy Parsons, and CS3 Daniela Salamanca from the Gold Crew represented USS Billings (LCS 15) by attending and participating in local events, meeting the Mayor of Billings along with the senior Senator to Montana, U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), and visiting with local citizens, and touring attractions in the Billings area.
Highlighting the trip, the seventeen Sailors participated in two Veterans Day Ceremonies honoring the local veterans for their service to our country.
“It’s been an amazing experience to be in Billings for the first time as a Gold Crew and to honor all the local Veterans during this year’s Veterans Day celebrations,” said CDR Brett Seeley, the commanding officer of USS Billings. “The city has shown us all an incredible amount of hospitality, and I couldn’t be more proud to represent our ship in its namesake city.”
During the trip, the Sailors participated in multiple local area school visits, visited numerous outreach organizations supporting Veterans, and took in the sights and sounds of the beauty of the Magic City and Big Sky country.
“It is very important for the Navy to have relationships with the people and places our warships are named after,” said Chief Boatswain Mate Hector Najera. “As a service, we are always very busy working, but it is important to connect with our namesake city and show them that we are regular, every day citizens, just like them.”
Between Veterans Day events, the Sailors toured the Yellowstone Kelly Museum and attended meet-n-greets at the West Rotary Red Door and the Heights Veterans of Foreign War (VFW) facilities to honor the state’s Veterans.
“It was pretty amazing and inspirational being able to see the history and beauty of the city of Billings,” said Mineman 1st Class Ashlee Knight. “Being a USS Billings Sailor and getting the chance to visit the Magic City makes me remember that I am a part of something bigger than myself.”
In addition to visiting local schools and attractions, the Sailors got the chance to visit a local Boys and Girls Clubhouse to interact with the local children.
“Engaging with the staff and kids at the Boys and Girls Club was a special experience,” said Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Daniela Salamanca. “Getting to know the local community and children and share with them our Navy experience and make connections with our service is something I will always remember.”
USS Billings (LCS 15) commissioned on Aug 3rd, 2019, and this is the first time the Gold Crew has been able to visit the ship’s namesake city due to operational commitments. Future plans are to conduct visits annually to keep the relationship between the ship and namesake city strong.
LCS class ships allow the Navy to strengthen its partnership with other countries’ navies and coast guards. A fast, agile and high-technology surface combatant, Billings, like the other ships in her class, serve as a platform for launch and recovery of manned and unmanned vehicles. LCSs perform maritime security operations, theater security cooperation engagements, and freedom of navigation patrols; keeping open critical maritime commerce routes. Littoral combat ships are able to patrol the littorals and access ports where other ships may be unable.
USS Billings (LCS 15) is homeported at Naval Station Mayport, Fla., and is assigned to Commander, Mine Division Two Two.
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