USO Sponsored Group Visits 'Big E'

Story Number: NNS120418-16Release Date: 4/18/2012 5:06:00 PM
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By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jeff A. Willadsen Enterprise Strike Group Public Affairs

USS ENTERPRISE, At Sea (NNS) -- The vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and celebrity guests visited aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) as part of a United Service Organization (USO) tour, April 17.

Adm. James A. "Sandy" Winnefeld and a group of celebrities thanked the Sailors and Marines aboard the ship for their service by bringing them a break from the rigors of carrier life.

Joining the vice chairman on the USO tour were comedian/actor Anthony Anderson, former Major League Baseball pitcher Randy "The Big Unit" Johnson, performer Jason "Wee-Man" Acuña, TV and film actor Dennis Haysbert, Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders Allyson Traylor, Brittany Evans and Kelsi Reich and former "American Idol" contestants Diana DeGarmo and Ace Young.

Winnefeld, was Enterprise's 17th commanding officer and was in command on September 11, 2001 and during the beginning of the subsequent war in Afghanistan. He said there is a special place in his heart for "Big E."

"It's really nice to be back to the ship I love, the airplanes I love, and the crew," said Winnefeld. "What a thrill to be here."

Winnefeld expressed his appreciation of and admiration for Enterprise Sailors and Marines, especially during Enterprise's final deployment in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.

During the show, the celebrities also expressed their appreciation for the dedication, sacrifice and hard work service members give for their country every day.

Dallas Cowboys cheerleader, Brittney Evans said, "This is our 74th USO tour, my 6th, and I love seeing those that fight for our country."

In addition to addressing the crew, Diana DeGarmo and Ace Young entertained the crew with a musical performance.

"We have fun doing this," said DeGarmo. "This is my second tour and I love coming out here to see what goes on and give back to all the men and women who serve."

"The USO has a fantastic history, decades and decades, of coming out and entertaining our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen," said Winnefeld. "I'm really proud to have these guys here with us."

Afterwards, the celebrity guests were given a tour of the ship and a chance to experience aircraft launching from Enterprise's flight deck.

"It is fun being out here and seeing how you guys operate," said Acuña. "The flight deck was amazing and I was just blown away at just how efficiently it runs."

Enterprise crew members were given the opportunity to take pictures with, and receive signed autographs from, the celebrities.

Enterprise is on its 22nd and final deployment, deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility, conducting maritime security operation efforts and support missions as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

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