USS PEARL HARBOR, At Sea (NNS) -- Friends and relatives of Sailors assigned to dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) had an opportunity to get a firsthand look at what life is like in the U.S. Navy, March 12.
Spouses, friends, children and parents of Sailors walked up the brow and got underway, like the Sailors have done many times. Pearl Harbor's commanding officer, Capt. David Guluzian, brought his own family aboard and they listened to the words he shared with the assembled families and friends of his crew.
"We understand this upcoming deployment has been a source of some anxiety for you," said Guluzian. "We have this Family Day Cruise to show you where your Sailors live, work, eat and sleep."
The day included many special events. Guluzian promoted Lt. j.g. Luis Alvarez from Ensign, recognized the qualification of Seaman Chad Evert to Master Helmsman, and welcomed Mrs. Tya Haylock to the Pearl Harbor family after her marriage to Petty Officer 1st Class Sherman Haylock on the flight deck of USS Pearl Harbor.
Guests were offered tours of the ship, an opportunity to shop at the ship's store, and a "steel beach picnic" barbecue-style lunch complete with steak, chicken, hamburgers and hot dogs, prepared by the crew.
Operations Specialist 1st Class Antonio McIntyre, president of the ship's Morale, Welfare and Recreation committee, expressed enthusiasm for the Family Day Cruise.
"I love it," said McIntyre. "This is the first time our families have been able to see the Navy firsthand and watch us do our jobs. It's a really good experience for the younger people, so they can understand what their mothers and fathers are doing and where they go when they're gone."
McIntyre's wife, Latosha McIntyre was also pleased with Pearl Harbor's efforts to prepare families for the upcoming Western Pacific deployment.
"It gives us a chance to see what you guys do," said Latosha. "It gives the kids a chance to see what daddy is doing."
While many families have no personal experience with shipboard life and have never seen the inside of a U.S. Navy vessel, there are other families that establish a tradition of service in the military in general and the Navy in particular.
Retired Chief Storekeeper Denise Smith and her husband, retired Master Chief Information Systems Technician Kevin Rosbourough are the parents of Electronics Technician 2nd Class Delisha Williams on board Pearl Harbor. Smith believes giving families an opportunity can help humanize the chain of command for families who may otherwise be unfamiliar with the people who carry out the ship's mission.
"You get to see who's running the ship and interact with the crew," Smith said. "It's not every day you get to come to the ship."
Of course, not every Sailor has a family of Sailors to provide support from shared experiences. Some family members get involved with the command in other ways.
Vanessa Alvarez is not just the wife of the recently promoted Lt. j.g. Alvarez. She is also Pearl Harbor's ombudsman, which means she has taken on the responsibility of providing a liaison between the families and Pearl Harbor's chain of command.
"This is a great opportunity to bring families an awareness of the Sailors' work life," said Alvarez. "It really opened my eyes to what Luis does for a living. It's more than just putting on a uniform in the morning."
Alvarez also pointed out that she is an active resource for the families.
"You're not alone," she said. "The Sailors have a chain of command to help support them while they're on deployment, and we have to be our own unit to help each other."
For more news from Pear Harbor, visit www.navy.mil/local/lsd52/.