BOSTON (NNS) -- In recognition of the observance of the Battle of Midway, approximately 125 Wounded Warriors from all five branches of the military joined the crew of the USS Constitution for a morning at sea June 4.
"Today we honor Navy history, celebrate past victories at sea and recognize the sacrifices service members have made, and continue to make, in support of our ongoing fight for freedom," said Capt. Key Watkins, program director of Navy Safe Harbor, the Navy and Coast Guard's Wounded Warrior program.
The crew of the Constitution, the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world, hosted a Wounded Warrior underway for service members who had sustained injuries in the course of duty.
"I can actually call myself a Sailor now," said Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Max Rohn, of Longmont, Colo., who has spent his entire Navy career serving with Marine Corps units. Rohn, a Purple Heart recipient, experienced his first opportunity to get underway aboard the Constitution.
Rohn was serving with the Marine Corps in Iraq when his patrol was hit by a grenade. As the unit's medic, he had to perform first aid on himself before he was moved to safety.
For some, being a Wounded Warrior is humbling.
"I ended up in the Wounded Warrior program because of cancer," said Aviation Structural Mechanic 1st Class Lorne Dunnells, a native of New York and currently the recruiter-in-charge of Navy Recruiting Station West in Lebanon, N.H. "The true Wounded Warriors are here with combat wounds. They are the real heroes."
The crew and guests of the Constitution commemorated the Battle of Midway by laying a wreath in the ocean.
"These three pieces - the ship, the day, the Wounded Warriors - may at first seem disconnected, but they are not," said Rear Adm. Robert O. Wray Jr., deputy commander of Military Sealift Command, at the ceremony. "The ship, the day, the warriors are all connected by one thing - heroism in defense of our homeland."
He reflected on the significant role that Constitution played in the morale of a fledgling nation during the War of 1812, how the Battle of Midway was the turning point in the Pacific during World War II and what an honor it was to sail with Medal of Honor recipients and Wounded Warriors.
Following the ceremony, the Wounded Warriors and their guests were offered "Tours of Duty" aboard the ship for a better glimpse in to the history of the ship, its crew and its current mission before she exchanged a 21-gun salute with Fort Independence on Castle Island.
"It is important for people to know the traditions and history of the Navy," said retired Force Master Chief Dave Pennington, anchor program director for Navy Safe Harbor, commenting on the important role Constitution and her crew serve today. "Sailors have been making a difference in the lives of people across the world, not just those close to home, for a very long time."
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