OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (NNS) -- The Los Angeles-class submarine USS Oklahoma City (SSN 723) has a motto: “The Sooner, the better.” The ship’s galley is named “Cattlemen’s.” Most Sailors aboard may not recognize these references. A select few of those Sailors were chosen to make the long journey to the city for which the ship was named, and get an understanding of the ties between the ship and its namesake.
Sailors assigned to Oklahoma City traveled more than 7,000 miles from her homeport of Apra Harbor, Guam, to Oklahoma City, Okla., during Navy Week from May 27 to June 2.
Navy Weeks are the service’s signature outreach program and allow the Navy to build and strengthen ties to the community while educating the public on their Navy. This visit marked the sixth Oklahoma City Navy Week since 2005, and the first in conjunction with the Star Spangled Salute Air Show at Tinker Air Force Base featuring the Blue Angels.
During the week the Oklahoma City Sailors, as well as many other Sailors from various commands, participated in various community outreach initiatives and were seen as ambassadors of the Navy.
During the week, the Oklahoma City Sailors shared stories with Navy and Army veterans at the Veterans’ Affairs Medical Center, and they also visited children at local YMCA centers and libraries – all standard Navy Week events. They also had the opportunity to taste the steak at the original Cattlemen’s Steakhouse alongside Navy Week host Rear Adm. Jeff Trussler, and to tour the Oklahoma State Capitol with Sen. Paul Rosino, a retired master chief petty officer.
Master Chief Machinist’s Mate (Nuclear) Jason Hayes, originally from Shawnee, Oklahoma, said the city has embraced them during their visit.
“It’s mutually beneficial for us to be able to get back in the community and for the community to see us out here,” Hayes said. “I think Oklahoma likes to take advantage of these moments because it allows them a chance to show their support.”
Having Sailors in the community created an open dialogue with the residents of Oklahoma City. Though there are many retired and veteran Sailors in the area, the residents seldom have the opportunity to see and speak to active duty Sailors in this area.
“I think the kids were definitely impacted,” Hayes said. “I think sometimes kids have a mixed message or misunderstanding on what the military does. We’re not just war fighters, we’re also community leaders and we’re actively involved.”
Electronics Technician 2nd Class Joshua Hines spoke about his interactions with the children during the week.
“I think our visit will definitely give them an interest in joining the Navy,” Hines said. “When I was a kid, I saw the Blue Angels and knew I wanted to do that one day. I ended up on submarines, but I’m okay with that choice.”
Throughout the week, the Sailors primarily wore the service dress white uniform. Hines said he was appreciative of all the support that they received.
“I was pretty excited. Every time that we walk somewhere we can’t get more than a block without someone honking their horn at us or shaking our hands and thanking us for our service,” Hines said. “When you walk around in uniform, you’re not really you anymore, you’re a Sailor. You’re the boys who came home.”
USS Oklahoma City is the second Navy ship to be named for Oklahoma City.
Oklahoma City Navy Week is one of 14 Navy Weeks in 2019 that focus a variety of equipment and personnel in a single city for a weeklong series of engagements designed to bring America’s Navy closer to the people it protects.
For more information, visit www.outreach.navy.mil.
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