Base Visit - USS Virginia Base

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USS Virginia
Base Members Visit USS Virginia July 23, 2010
Having purchased and received our America Never Forget 9/11 Tribute Flag, with serial number 774 (Click here to go to the 9/11 Flag page if you haven't read about that yet), BC Kenn McDermott began communicating and coordinating with USS Virginia Chief of the Boat, Command Master Chief Chad Schultz, by phone and e-mail, to arrange for a visit to the boat so we could present this special flag to the Commanding Officer of Virginia. (A big thanks to Mickey Martin for getting Chad's contact information). This coordination effort continued for about thirteen months before Kenn was finally able to nail down a date when Virginia would be inport and available for our visit. This long anticipated date turned out to be July 23rd, 2010.

All members and their families were encouraged to travel to the U. S. Submarine Base New London, Groton, CT to participate in this visit and presentation ceremony. We ended up with a total of sixteen in our party, including spouses and other relatives, as follows:

Kenn & Della McDermott; Pete & Jan Fortier; Mickey Martin; Robert Mayfield; Cindy Sheaffer; John & Barb Mosticone; Thurman Register; Sandy & Madeleine Harvey; Kenn's eldest daughter Cheri Eggleston and three members of her family.

We all rendezvoused at the Hampton Inn Groton on Long Hill Road. Here's the final plan that Kenn sent out by e-mail after talking with COB Schultz on the phone:

1. The boat is sending two 15 person vans to the Hampton Inn on Long Hill Road at 9:30am to take us down to the boat. Since many of us are staying there anyway and I had already asked everyone to meet there at 9:00am - this works out perfectly.
2. The presentation will be on the pier where Virginia is tied up.
3. The crew will fall-in on the pier for the ceremonial presentation of the America Never Forget Flag to the Commanding Officer.
4. The COB said this would be an appropriate time for someone like me to make a speech and describe the flag and I said I would have remarks along with the Founder and CEO of the America Never Forget Foundation, Cindy Sheaffer (Cindy: I’m going to introduce you and ask that you provide a history of the Foundation and your vision in creating it, along with the meaning of the flag components. I envision us making a joint presentation to the CO).
5. After the presentation we will board the boat for a below decks tour.
6. Cameras are allowed.
7. The COB is checking with the cook about serving us lunch but he doesn’t expect that to be a problem.

As it turned out our visit was on a Friday and the boat always had a "Burger Burn" on the pier on those Friday's when they were in port. So, to accomodate us, they served us our burgers and sides down in the mess hall where we ate after our tour.

I think our biggest shock was to see all Virginia crew members, officer and enlisted, wearing the new navy camouflage uniforms, which you'll see in the photos below. A big change from the old khaki's and dungarees most of us used to wear on the boats (as well as the "poopy suits" while underway).

Not only did we present the flag and certificate to the Virginia skipper Tim Salter, but he turned around and presented our Base with a really neat shadow box containing an inscribed photo of Virginia, a Virginia challenge coin and an engraved brass plaque. We proudly display this shadow box at all of our meetings and events.

Scroll down or Click here to jump down to a newspaper article about our visit to Virginia that was published after we left. Thanks to member Jim Lassiter for sending us this article from Undersea Enterprise News Daily, which he subscribes to.

The photos immediately below are in a standard 'slide show' format. Click on either side arrow to cycle through the photos, or click on the thumbnails along the bottom to jump to selected photos. PLEASE NOTE: On a PC the captions for each photo disappear while your cursor is inside the photo area, so just move it away and the caption will reappear. On small tablets or smart phones you must swipe the photos left or right to move through them.

Webmaster Note: While on the below decks tour I happened to pass by a very tall crew member. I stopped him to ask how tall he was since I knew he had my 6' 7" height beat. He said he was 6' 8" tall - so I guess that means there is still no height limit for submarine duty!!
Photos from Base visit to Virginia on July 23, 2010
Undersea Enterprise News Daily Article
Virginians Trek To Visit Virginia
By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Steven Myers, Submarine Group 2 Public Affairs, July 23, 2010

100723-N-3090M-006 GROTON, Conn. (July 23, 2010) – Cindy Sheaffer, president and founder of the America Never Forget   Foundation, explains the significance of the design on the “Never Forget” tribute flag during its presentation to USS Virginia(SSN 774). This flag, number 774 in a set of 3000, was presented to the Virginia-class submarine by its namesake chapter of Submarine Veterans, Inc., who traveled from Virginia for the presentation.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass     Communication Specialist 1st Class Steven Myers.
 
GROTON, Conn. – Members of the USS Virginia (SSN 774) chapter of Submarine Veterans, Inc., visited their namesake submarine July 23 for a special presentation.
 
Retired Lt. Kenn McDermott, base commander for the Richmond, Va., group, presented Cmdr. Tim Salter, USS Virginia Commanding Officer, with the 774th “Never Forget” tribute flag made by the America Never Forget Foundation.
 
Cindy Sheaffer, the president and founder, was present to explain the significance of the flag.

“I wanted the flag to serve as a reminder that freedom comes with a price and hoped it would keep alive the patriotism we all felt in our hearts” she said. “There are only 3000 flags, one for each of the victims, it is only fitting that number 774 be aboard Virginia.”

“This flag will be placed in a place of honor aboard our ship, said Salter. “As we begin our transition into our upcoming shipyard period this will be a constant reminder of why we do what we do.”

As a tribute flag, the field of stars is replaced by a copyrighted design that is a collage of United Flight 93 and the World Trade Towers surrounded by the Pentagon. The four stars represent the planes used in the attack and each plane is named in the design.

According to Sheaffer, Number 184 in the series hangs in the Pentagon in memory of the 184 victims there, following a presentation to Assistant Secretary of Defense John Grimes in January 2010. Number 93 was presented to the Flight 93 Federal Advisory Commission in 2006 and will be displayed at their memorial upon completion.

Virginia-class submarines are tailored to excel in a wide range of warfighting missions. These include anti-submarine and surface ship warfare; special operation forces; strike; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; carrier and expeditionary strike group support; and mine warfare.           
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