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Navy Honors Ultimate Sacrifice at 2023 Fleet Week in New York City

Aboard the USS WASP on the Hudson River, New York — Held just days earlier, the ceremony was a tribute to those who fought and those who died.

Hundreds of sailors and Marines line the deck of the USS Wasp on May 24 as it swims up the Hudson River, inaugurating 2023 Fleet Week in honor of New York City’s seven days of sea service. . The crew, dressed in starched uniforms, drew attention as the giant ship slowly passed the Freedom Tower, the main building of the reconstructed World Trade Center complex in lower Manhattan.

Twenty-two years ago, the September 11th terrorist attacks transformed the city’s skyline, sparking a chain of events that simultaneously led to two decades of war in Afghanistan and Iraq and the deaths of more than 7,000 Americans. Many of the young sailors and Marines aboard the Wasp were not born on that tragic day in 2001, but Memorial Day is celebrated to commemorate those who died in battle. days) had not left their heads.

“Memorial Day means a lot to me,” said Ensign Julianna Miller, who lost her grandfather in World War II. “He’s one of the reasons I joined the Navy. All those people came before us and paved the way for me to be here today.”

Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day. It started during the Civil War when people started laying flowers on the graves of soldiers who died in battle. After the outbreak of World War I, it was renamed as it evolved to commemorate the sacrifice of those who died in all of America’s wars.

Unlike many of the younger crew members of the USS Wasp, Secretary of the Navy Joseph Jedding has made multiple expeditions to Afghanistan. As a religious programs specialist, his work is both coordinating the logistics of military chaplains and providing them with armed security because of their official status as non-combatants.

Photo: A ship parade kicks off Fleet Week in New York

“When a comrade-in-arms dies, we often have to arrange a memorial service and possibly a funeral,” Jedding said. “I’ve been through quite a lot of loss, including those I’ve served with.”

Ensign Kira Sage said he joined the Navy to be part of something bigger than himself and to make an impact in the world. Her Memorial Day, she said, is a stark reminder of what that means.

“When you join the military, it reminds you that everyone has a higher purpose,” recalled the second lieutenant. “That’s the real goal we’re all fighting for.”

Based in Norfolk, the USS Wasp is a multipurpose amphibious assault ship and the lead ship of its class. Commissioned in 1989, the Wasp-class has served the Navy’s fleet of hovercraft for the rapid movement of troops to shore, as well as a wide variety of others, including the tiltrotor MV-22 Osprey and the utility aircraft F-35B Lightning II. It can accommodate aircraft. A fighter designed to replace the Harrier “Jump Jet” used by the Marine Corps.

Amphibious assault ships like the USS Wasp aren’t as big as nuclear-powered carriers, and they don’t have the catapults to get jet fighters into the air. But on Wednesday, the largest of a dozen ships docked in New York Harbor, it passed the Statue of Liberty, Fort Hamilton and One World Trade Center before arriving in Manhattan.

Fleet Week has been held in New York City nearly every year since 1984, but has been canceled for 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The U.S. Navy is thrilled to be returning to New York to demonstrate how the Navy, Marines and Coast Guard are giving us an edge at sea,” said Christopher, Commander, Navy Mid-Atlantic Area. Major General S. Gray said. “New York has always been a wonderful host, and I can’t wait for the brave men and women who serve our country, as well as our guests from our allies, to have the opportunity to experience all that this city has to offer.”

Many NATO allies also took part in the parade up the Hudson River as the alliance’s campaign to support Ukraine in its war with Russia became the Pentagon’s new top concern. Canada contributed the coastal defense ship HMCS Glace Bay, Italy contributed one of its frigates, the ITS Virginio Fasan, and marine surveyor HMS Scott represented the Royal Navy.

Aviator Aaron Schwartzman works on the USS Wasp flight line. After landing, his team keeps the helicopter in place by chaining it to the deck and securing the wheels with chock blocks. Noncommissioned officers in flight duties wear different colored shirts to indicate their duties. For example, accident and salvage teams wear red, while purple shirts are reserved for those who fuel the aircraft.

Airman Schwartzman and his sailors wear blue shirts. When he’s not on a plane, he often hangs out in his homely hideout, the “Blue Hole,” which has two broken couches, a small refrigerator, and a place to hang his safety vest. Also available in blue. And a crash helmet they call a “Cranial”.

Schwartzman is a second-generation Navy officer. His father has served as a sailor for about 30 years, and he says it was natural for him to enlist after graduating from high school in San Diego.

“I wanted to get some experience and travel before I went to college,” he said, leaning back in his chair. “But you wake up early and you really get a sense of what a long day is like.”

role model

Sailors and Marines aboard the Wasp are expected to connect with the local community during their stay in New York. For days, their leaders hammered into their heads a religious mantra: “Be professional while having fun.” I wear a dress uniform when I go to a baseball game or a restaurant in Little Italy.

“You seem like a role model who walks all the time.

The USS Wasp has a crew of approximately 1,100 and 2,200 crew members. She said the ship is based in Norfolk, but most of her Marines are from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

Corporal Grayson Prigen was assigned to his unit’s venerable M2 .50 caliber machine gun team. Though improved over the years, today’s M2, affectionately known as “Maduse”, isn’t much different from the one designed by weapons maker John Browning near the end of World War I.

“This is the most reliable weapon system we have,” said Prigen Squadron.

This year’s Fleet Week, in conjunction with Memorial Day celebrations, comes at a time when the Pentagon is facing another kind of struggle: the most acute recruitment crisis in decades.

Officials hope that sending Marines like Private Prigen to New York might get a recruit or two. He wasn’t from a military family, but he decided that if he was going to enlist, he’d rather be a Marine.

“It’s been a huge life-changing experience, to say the least. But it was probably the best thing for me,” the corporal admitted.

There are many reasons why people enlist in the military. For some, it is a family tradition passed down from father to son and now more often from father or mother to daughter.

Sergeant Judy Justice (sometimes jokingly called “Judge Judy” by fellow Marines) was the second member of her family to follow in her brother’s footsteps and enlist in the Marine Corps. “The Marines had the most disciplined, the most physical women,” she said. “We do a variety of field exercises all the time.”

Buffalo, New York. Like many people from upstate New York, hometown entrepreneur Nicholas DiMatteo has little interest in exploring the Big Apple, other than eating local pizza somewhere else. Jordan Bush of Lance, a fellow Marine mortar expert, is from South Florida and enjoys seeing the Statue of Liberty.

“I have never been here before,” he said. “But don’t get me wrong, I want pizza too.” Navy Honors Ultimate Sacrifice at 2023 Fleet Week in New York City

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