NEW YORK (NNS) -- When one Sailor from the multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) attended the Nov. 9 New York Knicks vs. Utah Jazz basketball game at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan, N.Y, she received a special surprise from NavyForMoms.com, a new Web-based outreach to mothers.
During a timeout, the Knicks announcer praised the commitment of U.S. military families before calling Damage Controlman 3rd Class Dana Cox of Lancaster, Pa., to the floor. A Knicks City Dancer escorted her to center court.
"DC3 Dana Cox is a damage control firefighter who has served aboard Bataan for more than two years. We would like to thank her for the service she has provided to our country," the announcer told the crowd.
What happened next was completely unexpected for the Bataan Sailor. Cox's mother, Diana Russell, rushed onto the court to embrace her daughter.
"Are you surprised to see me?" Russell asked, as the two exchanged hugs and kisses.
"I am so shocked!" Cox exclaimed.
Nearly 1,500 Sailors and Marines from Bataan are in New York for a week of community outreach events, public tours, participation in the city's annual Veterans Day Parade and support for the reopening of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum at Pier 86 in Manhattan.
Russell is a proud member of NavyForMoms.com, which sponsored the Knicks outing for members of Bataan's crew and arranged her reunion with her daughter. NavyForMoms.com is a Web site that connects military mothers - those whose sons or daughters have enlisted, as well as those whose sons or daughters may be considering enlisting. Online, the women can post photos, ask questions about Navy life, and empathize with one another during the difficult months of deployment.
"We are so proud of Dana and all that she has done. Her father and I rode three hours on the train to be with her," Russell said.
Cox's father, Dale Russell and his wife recently enjoyed a visit to Bataan, where they toured their daughter's living quarters and work space, and ate in the ship's galley.
"I am very proud of her and the job she does for the Navy," Dale said.
As for the game, Bataan's Sailors enjoyed their night out in New York, with the game's final score being Knicks 107, Jazz 99. What made the event particularly memorable for the group was recognition of their military service, including a chance to greet Knicks players as they went onto the court.
"I loved being a part of the fan tunnel," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) 3rd Class Rafael Johnson of Heber, Calif., who joined eight of his shipmates courtside.
Aviation Boatwain's Mate Airman Colin Mooney of Boston agreed.
"This is my first time at a live basketball game," Mooney said. "I'm glad we were offered an opportunity to get out and see all that goes on the city."
Bataan is the fifth ship of the Navy's Wasp-class ships. She was commissioned Sept. 20, 1997, and is the second U. S. Navy warship to bear the name. CVL-29 was an Independence-class light aircraft carrier that was commissioned in November 1943. After serving in both World War II and the Korean conflict, CVL-29 was decommissioned in 1954.
For more news from USS Bataan, visit www.navy.mil/local/lhd5/.