ABOARD USS CONSTELLATION, At Sea (NNS) -- As the United States continues its unprecedented pursuit of those who threaten our liberty and safety at home and abroad, members of the U.S. Naval Reserve Force serving aboard USS Constellation (CV 64) have made enormous contributions to the San Diego-based aircraft carrier during Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).
Reservists aboard Constellation have made the seamless transition into the ship's company and embarked air wing with textbook ease, which highlights the skills and professionalism Reservists bring to "America's Flagship."
"It is the team model activated to produce a win-win situation for all. It is great when someone comes to fill a vacancy who does not need to be trained on the job to do the basics, but can step right up and do what is expected of the active-duty Sailor or officer," said Capt. Dennis Wood, a Reservist who has served the entire 2002-2003 Western Pacific (WESTPAC) deployment as the ship's psychologist.
It has often been said that a Reservist is "twice a citizen," having to balance readiness requirements with civilian employment responsibilities. Time and time again, Reservists across this nation have met those challenges during both periods of peace and war.
"When I was on active-duty, all I had to focus on was the Navy and my family. A Reservist, on the other hand, has to balance these challenges, as well as the expectations of a civilian career," said Lt. Cmdr. Erich Roeder, who served as Flag Secretary for Rear Adm. Barry M. Costello, Commander, Cruiser-Destroyer Group 1, embarked aboard Constellation.
While it is critical to appreciate that everyone aboard Constellation is motivated by different emotions and experiences as the fight against terrorism continues, the events of the past two years have affected every citizen of the western world.
For the men and women of the U.S. military, they have been tasked with the responsibility to carryout the nation's anti-terrorism policies. Every servicemember, active-duty and Reservist alike, will ultimately contribute to the ongoing war on terrorism.
Lt. Cmdr. John "Dice" Gormely, a firefighter from New York City, is but one of countless individuals who has had a direct experience with the horror of terrorism firsthand. As a Reservist, he volunteered to serve with Carrier Air Wing 2 operations department aboard Constellation. Gormely provided the air wing, along with Constellation crew members, a first person account of the events of the Sept. 11 by providing lectures and presentations of his experiences.
Gormley, a qualified naval flight officer in the F-14D Tomcat, flew several combat missions during OIF with Figighter Squadron (VF) 2 Bounty Hunters embarked aboard Constellation. Among the missions the squadron flew over Iraq, Gormley was part of a strike package that delivered Joint Direct Attack Munition on one of Saddam Hussein's palaces.
Though most Reservists aboard Constellation did not experience the sacrifices associated with direct combat, each shared a common understanding of the importance of their respective contribution to the overall mission of Constellation, the air wing and the embarked staffs.
Sacrifices, no matter the size, are a significant part of the Reserve experience. Capt. Jerome Wisniew, a Reservist assigned to the Navy Medical Center San Diego, suspended his private podiatry practice in order to contribute to WESTPAC.
In addition to seeing more than 800 patients and performing 130 surgical procedures aboard Constellation, Wisniew was transported to USS Austin (LPD 4), USS Ranier (AOE 7) and USS Ponce (LPD 15) to provide specialized medical treatment.
"Capt. Wisniew was exceptional. Before he came aboard, he proactively arranged to have everything he needed, which ensured his effectiveness during deployment," said Cdmr. Brad Smith, Constellation's senior medical officer. "He brought 30 years of experience and made a tremendous impact on the quality of care and life for our Sailors and Marines."
Unlike many commands, carrier operations demand full integration without any transition time. Out of operational necessity, Reservists are expected to step into an unknown environment, adapt quickly and begin contributing immediately.
"I was totally engaged right from the beginning," said Chief Boatswain's Mate Steaven Wischoff, a 21-year Reservist from Evans Mills, N.Y., who, as a safety observer for Constellation's deck department, took part in more than 40 successful underway replenishments, safely transferring 45 million gallons of fuel and 1,500 pallets of cargo and munitions without a mishap.
Throughout the deployment, more than 20 members of the Naval Reserve Force augmented nearly every major department and embarked commands.
"Reservists made a significant contribution to the incredible success achieved by Constellation during this combat deployment" said Capt. (Sel) Dave Maloney, the ship's executive officer. "They provided critical skills at critical times, and they improved nearly every aspect of our operations. They were doctors, weapons handlers and religious program specialists. They served as ship's security, flight deck landing lens maintainers, public affairs officers and more. They answered our call and performed magnificently. The crew and leadership is grateful for their service."
For many Reservists, service in the Naval Reserve represents a rewarding part-time extension of previous active duty. Yet, through this WESTPAC, Reservists provided Constellation with the ability to make this 21st and final deployment one of the most memorable.
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