USS Constitution Sailors Wrap Up St. Louis Navy Week
USS Constitution Sailors wrapped-up a successful trip to St. Louis Navy Week on Sunday, May 4.
A team of six Sailors from Old Ironsides, led by Constitution’s 73rd Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Sean Kearns, helped promote America’s Navy and America’s Ship of State throughout the St. Louis area during the Navy Week, April 28 – May 4.
St. Louis Navy Week was the second of five Navy Weeks Constitution Sailors will participate in throughout 2014. The primary purpose of Navy Weeks is to increase awareness by presenting the U.S. Navy to Americans who live in cities that normally do not have a significant naval presence. St. Louis Navy Week showcased the mission, capabilities and achievements of the U.S. Navy and provided residents the opportunity to meet Sailors firsthand.
Constitution’s week began with a visit to the St. Louis Veteran’s Affairs Hospital, followed by a visit to St. Louis Children’s Hospital as part of the Caps for Kids campaign to visit with child patients and present them with their own USS Constitution command ball cap.
“It was a great experience,” said Logistics Specialist 3rd Class Jessica Carey, a member of Constitution’s St. Louis team. “It was humbling meeting veterans and going to the children’s hospital to put smiles on their faces. It was something that I’ll forever hold in my heart.”
Constitution Sailors then performed mid-week color guards, dressed in their 1813-era uniforms, during the singing of the national anthem in front of nearly 40,000 spectators prior to two St. Louis Cardinals baseball games at Busch Stadium.
Shifting from stadiums to schoolrooms, the Constitution crew gave numerous STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) presentations about Old Ironsides and her rich history to more than 2,000 students at Ridgewood Middle School, Lincoln Middle School, St. Gerard Majella School, North Kirkwood Middle School, and Belle Valley School throughout the week.
“It was an incredible experience,” said Gunner’s Mate Seaman Amada Williamson, a Constitution St. Louis participant. “Being able to inspire the school kids and light a fire for history was very rewarding.”
The Sailors also made a visit to the O’Fallon Boys & Girls Club, where they spoke to youth about career opportunities in the Navy, followed by a friendly soccer match in the gym.
“I literally grew up in a Boys & Girls Club,” said Chief Hospital Corpsman Louis Del Prete, Constitution’s leading chief petty officer for the Navy Week. “To be given the opportunity to speak with young minds about their potential and what the Navy can do for their wellbeing is simply priceless.”
Of course, no Navy Week would be complete for Sailors stationed on the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world without actually sailing, and that is exactly what they did with the St. Louis Area Sea Scouts Saturday morning.
Meeting at Creve Coeur Lake, Sailors and Sea Scouts cast off from the shore in sailboats on the troop’s first adventure of the year.
“It’s great to see a program like the sea scouts familiarizing young adults with elements of our sailing history, particularly when it comes to sails and nautical terminology,” said Builder 2nd Class Daniel McCluskey, a Missouri native and Navy Week participant.
The capstone event for the crew was a dinner with the Patrol Craft Sailor Association Reunion Saturday night, where Cmdr. Kearns was the keynote speaker.
“The Crew and I have enjoyed a fantastic week here in one of our nation’s great cities,” said Kearns. “Interacting with the people of St. Louis, especially the school-age kids and veterans, has been very rewarding. I can’t think of a better way to wrap up our week here than by sharing dinner with Navy veterans of the Patrol Craft Sailors Association, getting to hear about their experiences in the Navy, and paying our respects for their courageous service that paved the way to our own.”
Constitution’s St. Louis crew now heads back to Boston to prepare for the ship’s first underway of the year to be held June 6, but won’t soon forget the experiences afforded to them in St. Louis.
“I’m thankful to have been given the privilege and opportunity to go on the St. Louis Navy Week,” said Williamson.
USS Constitution, the world’s oldest commissioned warship afloat, actively defended sea lanes against global threats from 1797 to 1855. Now a featured destination on Boston’s Freedom Trail, Constitution and her crew of U.S. Navy Sailors offer community outreach and education about the ship’s history and the importance of naval seapower to more than 500,000 visitors each year.
Press Release, May 8, 2014; Image: Wikimedia