NEW YORK (NNS) -- The moment Sailors and Marines aboard Harpers Ferry-class amphibious dock landing ship USS Oak Hill (LSD 51) arrived in port at Staten Island, New York, they were met with big smiles, many thanks and the most gracious of hosts for Veterans Day weekend.
Oak Hill arrived in New York Nov. 9. Her crew participated in a community service (COMSERV) project, reenlistments at the 9/11 Memorial and a parade on Veterans Day. Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Trey Hutcheson, assigned to Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73), documented those events through video and photographs.
“It was a great opportunity to not only get the experience of being at sea, but also getting to visit a place like New York on Veterans Day weekend,” said Hutcheson. “The city was great to see, and the people there were very kind and definitely showed that they appreciate the military and the things we do.”
Oak Hill kicked-off Veterans Day weekend by going to the Fredrick E. Samuel Apartments in Harlem for a COMSERV, in which they transformed a small area into a community garden.
“Being Veterans Day weekend, this is our way of appreciating our communities and those who have served before us,” said Chief Operations Specialist Reginald Washington. “Community service is key to making this world a better place to live in for our family members, friends and even those we don’t know personally.”
Some of the Sailors aboard Oak Hill used the port visit in New York as an opportunity to reenlist at the 9/11 Memorial.
“I joined the Navy right after 9/11, so it’s a big reason why I joined the military,” said Culinary Specialist 1st Class Kevin Prekopa. “You didn’t need to be from New York City to feel the effects of what those attacks had on people, and for me it was the final straw for me to enlist.”
The memorial was chosen because of what it represents in the nation’s history.
“It’s an honor to reenlist at Ground Zero,” said Information Systems Technician 3rd Class Brandon Kirkorian. “I wanted to do it for all the people that lost their lives that fateful day. It was emotional for me. It touched my heart thinking about not only what this means for me and my career, but thinking about all the lost lives that were there.”
While at the memorial, Sailors had the opportunity to visit the site and tour the museum, an experience not soon forgotten.
“It was definitely an emotional experience when you walk up to the site and know what was there before, and to see what is there now,” said Hutcheson. “Visiting this place solidifies my belief in joining the Navy and serving my country.”
Sailors from Oak Hill represented the Navy in the New York Veterans Day parade, the largest parade in the United States on Veterans Day.
“I couldn’t believe I got to cover an event like this,” said Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Danilo Reynoso, temporarily assigned to Oak Hill. “Seeing all the branches represented and marching down the streets of Manhattan was very inspiring. Seeing the smiles on Sailors’ and civilians’ faces during the parade was a nice reminder of why we serve this great country.”
After a weekend filled with food, fun and festivities, it was time for the crew of Oak Hill to bid farewell to New York to conduct operations in the U.S. 2nd Fleet area of operations, Nov. 13.
“Being able to cover the reenlistment event, a breakfast sponsored by the mayor’s office, a trip to the National Football League headquarters, and even meeting a Medal of Honor recipient was an incredible experience,” said Hutcheson. “Meeting all the other veterans and hearing their stories of service is something that I will definitely remember.”
With memories to last a lifetime, the crew and embarked Sailors said will always remember spending Veterans Day weekend in New York City celebrating the service and sacrifice of those who have served this country.
For more news from USS George Washington (CVN 73), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn73/.