Posted: 5/11/2009 12:56:31 PM
By Mike Hallahan
President, USS Intrepid Association
As an active Crew Member, I was never a part of a Fleet Week but it is always a special time here in New York City and the Former Crew Members are very excited that the Intrepid is back in Manhattan and will again serve as a home base for Fleet Week.
Having served in the Military, I am always impressed by the might of the Navy that is on display during Fleet Week. When those ships roll past the Intrepid and take over the whole area, it is quite the spectacle. It makes you feel proud to be an American and it’s always great to see all the sailors and Marines around the city seeing the sites and having fun. As a sailor, it’s always nice to get off the ship and walk around a city so I’m sure they appreciate it too.
It’s great to watch the people staring in awe at the size and scope of the ships. Kids especially – they are so excited to get aboard those ships for tours.
Personally, I enjoy interacting with the sailors. I’ve gone out to dinner a few times with young sailors and we exchange sea stories and talk about all kinds of things. Some of what a sailor experiences never changes no matter how much time has gone by. But in some ways, they are so far advanced now. I’ve said to some of my cohorts that I don’t think I’d be able to get into the Navy today! With the technology and all that stuff, it’s amazing what these guys can do now.
Sometimes we will invite some sailors up to our crew member quarters on the Intrepid. We sit around, enjoy a cup of coffee and some snacks, and chat. We exchange old stories and talk about all the things we have seen and done in the Navy. It’s always a good time and allows us to get to know some of the younger guys a little bit better.
Once in a while, a ship will offer something to the Intrepid. We have a TomCat aircraft on the flight deck and some of the armament that is on it was donated to us by the USS John F Kennedy. They came during Fleet Week and saw that aircraft and then offered us some armament to add to the display.
This year, we’re going to have the USS Roosevelt here in NYC, a ship named after the two presidents, and we are going to feed the crew. We are going to bring them some big hero sandwiches or something and feed them and talk to the sailors. We will go into the galley and relieve the cooks and give them a little bit of the NYC deli cuisine experience. A few years ago we fed the crew of the USS Anzio and it was the first time I had been aboard one of the new cruisers. I was amazed at the galley. They have cappuccino machines and Coca-Cola and anything you could want. When I was in the Navy, we’d run out of milk two days after we left port! It’s like a bistro now! But the guys deserve it.
When the old Navy meets the new Navy, we get the chance to share ideas. And the young guys are always great about telling us they are just upholding our traditions. I always enjoy Fleet Week and I invite you and your family and friends to come down to Intrepid and celebrate with us. If you see a former Crew Member, don’t be afraid to ask him some questions or talk to him about his time onboard this amazing ship.