U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND REGION (NNS) -- Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Vern Clark, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy MCPON (SS/SW/AW) James Herdt and Chief of Navy Chaplains Rear Adm. Barry Black recently visited more than 10,000 Sailors on 11 Navy ships in the 5th Fleet area of operational responsibility and at Naval Support Activity Bahrain.
"I want to look Sailors in the eye and tell them how proud I am of the job they're doing," the CNO said.
He addressed military personnel and their families during a town hall meeting in the Bahrain fleet base gym before flying out to visit with Sailors from USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), USS Vella Gulf (CG 72), USS Detroit (AOE 4), USS Decatur (DDG 73), USS Bataan (LHD 5), USS Shrevport (LPD 12), USS Whidbey Island (LSD 41), USS John C. Stennis (CVN 71), USS Port Royal (DD 73), USS Peterson (DD 969) and USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6).
This was the MCPON's final official trip to the region. Herdt will retire in April after 36 years of active-duty and Reserve naval service. Herdt assumed his duties as the ninth MCPON in March 1998.
"From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank you for making your home here open to me the last few years," MCPON Herdt said. "I wish you all the best."
Following the MCPON's remarks, Chief of Navy Chaplains Rear Adm. Barry Black explained that spiritual readiness is as important as physical readiness, and that there are a few rules he follows in his life.
"There are three basic rules I believe in. Those are to treat others as you would like to be treated. Also, try doing the most good for the most people. Finally, live so that your actions can become universal law," Black told the crowd in opening remarks at the session.
CNO, MCPON and the Chief of Navy Chaplains departed for their flight out to the Navy ships in the Gulf for face-to-face meetings with the fleet. They arrived late Tuesday on the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), which has been launching attacks on al Qaeda and Taliban positions in Afghanistan since mid-October. Clark began his visit by reenlisting 17 crewmembers and congratulating 11 Sailors of the Quarter and Sailors of the Year.
"What separates us from others is that our people are individuals who are willing to commit themselves to their nation and this Navy," Clark said.
Clark praised the crew for remaining committed when their President called upon them to stop "the evil ones," and told them that their enemies had made a serious mistake.
"They didn't know how the United States of America was going to react," said Clark. "They didn't know that we were going to be ready. We were ready, and we are ready!"
Clark closed his speech to the crew of Roosevelt by sharing with them what he had said as a speaker at the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor to the men and women who had served their country, and whom Clark credited with having "established a heritage."
"I told them that they would be extremely proud of the young people who were carrying forward their heritage today," the CNO said. "They had their chance, and they showed us what they were made of, and now it's our chance to show the world what we're made of, and to show them what we're all about. It's our chance to show the world that we won't be defeated, and it's our chance to be courageous, and it is our chance to defeat an enemy who is out to destroy us."
"It's your chance, and your chance, and your chance," the CNO added, pointing to individual Sailors in the crowd.
The Sailors on board expressed their appreciation for the CNO's visit.
Airman Mark Delaura of Detroit said, "It was interesting that the CNO came and saw us, and a great opportunity for the people who are in charge of us...to give us their scoop. It's good that they give us a chance to ask questions and see what's really going on."
"It makes you feel important," explained Delaura. "We do our job everyday and the CNO comes here and tells us that we're doing a good job -- it just makes us feel that much more important."
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