Civilian Leaders Meet Sailors Working Aboard Navy Carrier in Gulf

By Carmen L. Gleason
American Forces Press Service

USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER, April 25, 2007 - Members of the Defense Department's Joint Civilian Orientation Conference today walked, or catapulted, away from the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower with a greater appreciation for what sailors are doing for their nation and the global war on terror.

Forty-five civic and business leaders who are traveling in the Central Command's area of responsibility were introduced to sailors manning the nuclear-powered, Nimitz-class aircraft carrier the day before it headed back to its home port in Norfolk, Va., following a six-month deployment to the Arabian Sea.

Joint Civilian Orientation Conference participants arrived to the carrier via Navy C-2A "Greyhound" cargo plane where they were "recovered" by one of four arrestor wires on the 1,092-foot deck. Each of the three cargo planes came to a jolting stop on the ship's deck resulting in applause and cheers from its passengers.

After a brief introduction to the ship's senior leaders, participants had lunch in the ship's aft mess decks with junior sailors from the 5,000-member crew.

Sailors were quizzed by the participants on their jobs, the reason they joined the Navy and how they felt about their mission in the global war on terror.

By climbing seemingly endless staircases, visitors were allowed the rare opportunity of touring the ship's bridge and primary flight control areas to see how the carrier's crew orchestrates the 70 plus daily missions performed by the "Ike."

The ship's "Air Boss" and his staff controlled launches, recoveries and the location of all aircraft within a 10-mile radius while explaining to the visitors the steps of the seamless operations onboard.

After watching the process from high above the carrier's deck, participants were allowed to go onto the ship's bridge where they stood mere feet away from the four catapults that launched F-18C "Hornets," F-18E "Super Hornets" and E-2C "Hawkeyes" onto training missions.

The participants watched in awe when they were allowed to stand by the arrestor wires as aircraft approached the 4.5-acre flight deck at full throttle until their tail hooks caught the wires to come to a complete stop within seconds of touching down.

Before leaving the Eisenhower, the ship's commander Navy Capt. Dan Cloyd presented the participants with a certificate naming them honorary "tailhookers" for their landing earlier on the ship's deck.

"I hope you leave us with a sense of how incredibly talented, inspiring and talented our young people are on the Eisenhower," he told the guests resulting in applause, whistling and cheering. "Their satisfaction and pride in a job well-done is the highest I've seen during my 28 years in the Navy."

The carrier strike group commander echoed his sentiments.

"They joined the service to make a difference," Navy Rear Adm. Allen Myers said, "and that's exactly what they do each and every day."

Our sailors make a difference by launching aircraft and providing security in the region, Myers told the group. They truly believe in what they are doing, he said.

"The level of skill and capability of sailors is amazing," said JCOC participant Kellie Johnson, who is the president of ACE Clearwater Enterprises in Torrance, Calif. "It takes a certain kind of person to be in the Navy; I am in awe."

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