USS George Washington (CVN 73) hosted Hawaii community leaders and educators Sept. 9, while conducting training operations off the coast of Oahu.
The visit to the GW was part of Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet’s distinguished visitors (DV) embarkation program. The tour gave local leaders the opportunity to experience life firsthand aboard a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier.
Guests experienced the takeoff and landing of the 1,092-feet runway and toured the working areas of some of the 5,000-plus Sailors.
“The entire ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ experience is something I will always treasure,” said Kimi-Anne Houston-Sur of the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii.
“Having the opportunity to land and takeoff on a carrier is a fantastic experience and getting to be up close and personal on the flight deck to witness takeoffs and landings is an experience beyond true description.”
The DV embarkation program also helped complete a personal ambition.
“A ‘cat’ and a ‘trap’ have been on my ‘bucket list’ for years. Now I can die a fulfilled man,” said John Bates of the Armed Services YMCA.
While the takeoff and landing are more obvious sources of excitement, for some DVs the opportunity to meet the Sailors was an eye-opening experience.
“These are kids that are making a difference in the job that they are doing, so that things are running safely,” said Derrick Kang, director of college counseling for the Mid-Pacific Institute. “As a high school counselor, it was helpful for me to hear and see this. I came off the ship with a greater respect for the military. While I suggest the academies to many students, I won’t be so hesitant to suggest the military.”
For some, the experience left them with a strengthened sense of patriotism.
“I left your program feeling proud to be a U.S. citizen and proud of what our military is doing. I walked away feeling that I should not only encourage students to apply for the academies, but that enlisting wouldn’t be a bad thing,” said Kang.
George Washington departed San Diego Aug. 21 to begin the journey to Yokosuka, Japan, where it will replace USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) as the United States’ only permanently forward-deployed aircraft carrier.