Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Distinguished Visitor USS Dwight D Eisenhower

It is a very personal interview with a Distinguished Visitor of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower CVN-69. Not everyone gets to be a Distinguished Visitor in their life! On November 15-16, 2009, twelve civilians from the Jacksonville Florida area were given a very special opportunity to be VIP guests of the Navy's Distinguished Visitor Program on the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Distinguished Visitor of the USS Dwight D Eisenhower
Twelve selected individuals received VIP treatment as Distinguished Visitors on the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) Nimitz-class aircraft carrier during an active training mission at sea off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida.

The following is an interview with one of the Distinguished Visitors of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) Nimitz-class aircraft carrier. His personal story is shared with all the memorable and exciting details of this unique experience.

This page has some fabulous photography and videos captured by the Distinguished Visitor in the spotlight. Oh, and by the way, that Distinguished Visitor is now my ex! Believe it or not. This story of one Distinguished Visitor's experience has been reviewed by official Navy personnel for factual accuracy.

Photo Credit: A Distinguished Visitor, my ex, who gets the photo/video credits herein.

Distinguished Visitor Poll
Please answer our question. Were you a Distinguished Visitor or know somebody?
  1. Yes, I was.
  2. Whilst I personally wasn't; I know somebody who was!
  3. I've been on the ship with them.
  4. Not yet had the pleasure.

USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69)
An Honor to be a Distinguished Visitor of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower!

To experience first hand the Navy's mission

"In life there may come those rare opportunities to do something that you may never have believed possible. Thanks to a fortunate happenstance and having friends of friends in high places, it was my honor to be invited to visit the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) Nimitz-class aircraft carrier as part of the Distinguished Visitor Embarkation Program. The purpose of the program is to allow selected civilians to experience first hand the Navy's mission, and to in turn contribute to the public understanding of the roles and missions of the Navy. I hope this piece will serve well as my contribution to this purpose." ~Ray Brady, Distinguished Visitor of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier.

The Official FAQs on the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69)
Nimitz-class aircraft carrier - Check out the official Navy website for "Ike"

Insignia Patch of USS Dwight D Eisenhower (CVN-69)
"Construction of the third nuclear-powered and second Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), was authorized by Congress in fiscal year 1970." --Read the rest of the history from the official Navy website at http://www.eisenhower.navy.mil/history.html.

Check out the facts at http://www.eisenhower.navy.mil/stat_facts.html.

* Builder: Newport News Shipbuilding, Newport News, Va.
* Keel laid: Aug. 15, 1970
* Launched: Oct. 11, 1975
* Commissioned: Oct. 18, 1977
* Planned crew size: 6,287
* Number of anchors: 2
* Weight of anchors: 60,000 lbs. each
* Anchor chain: 1,082 ft. on each anchor
* Total anchor weight including chain: 735,000 lbs. each
* Distillation plant capacity: 400,000 gals.
* Number of light fixtures: approx. 29,000
* Length of flight deck: 1,092 ft.
* Width of flight deck: 252 ft.
* Height keel to mast: 244 ft.
* Area of flight deck: 4.5 acres
* Displacement of carrier: 95,000 tons
* Type: Nuclear reactor
* Number of reactors: 2
* Maximum speed: More than 30 knots
* Number of screws: 4
* Weight of screws: 66,200 lbs. each
* Number of rudders: 2 (29 ft. by 22 ft., 60,000 lbs.)
* Number of catapults: 4

interview with a distinguished visitor

The Distinguished Visitors of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower
(CVN-69) - NRSE Guests of November 15-16, 2009

Distinguished Visitors of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower
My personal military experience is limited to two years of Air Force ROTC at UF, GO GATORS, and not passing my draft physical due to a medical condition at the time. As a participant. I come with a fair base of knowledge of Carrier operations and aircraft due to my interest and quite a few hours of watching "The Military Channel", one of my favorites.

The twelve special people who became Distinguished Visitors include Ray Brady, Vice-President of Technical Services, Nova Pressroom Products; James Clark, President, Daniel; Frank De Toma, Senior Constituent Advocate, Senator Bill Nelson; Jackie Gray, Senior Staffer, Congresswoman Corrine Brown; Dr. Todd Igel, Chief of Urology, Mayo Clinic; Sean McNeil, Bay County Chamber of Commerce Chairman, Military Affairs Committee and President, McNeil-Carroll Engineering, Inc.; Dr. William Newsom, Director, Eye Surgicenter, Ophthalmologist; Sara Phipps, President, The Yellow Door Agency; Bruce Smathers, Former FL State Senator, former FL Secretary of State, Influential Community Leader; Ted Spangenberg, Director, Military Affairs and Special Projects, Gulf Power Company; Susan Steger, Mayor, Fernandina Beach, FL; and Kathy Sutton, American Cancer Society Representative, Project Lead "In The Pink Boutique."

Official Navy News Story
Eisenhower CSG Successfully Completes COMPTUEX
From Public Affairs Story Number: NNS091124-22
Release Date: 11/24/2009 5:13:00 PM

"NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- The Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group (CSG) successfully completed a Composite Unit Training Exercise (COMPTUEX), Nov. 24, off the East Coast of the U.S. from Virginia to Florida."

Read the rest of the official Navy news story at http://www.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=49858
For more news visit http://www.navy.mil/local/cvn69/ and http://www.eisenhower.navy.mil/ikenews.html.

Distinguished Visitors Arrive
Naval Air Station Jacksonville Florida

Distinguished Visitors Arrive NAS Jax
A welcome from Base Commander Captain John "Jack" Scorby and Southeast Regional Commander.

We arrive at Naval Air Station Jacksonville with a welcome from Base Commander Captain John "Jack" Scorby and Southeast Regional Commander, Rear Admiral Tim Alexander. Their welcome both instills us with excitement yet put us at ease of what we have in store.

Our group of Distinguished Visitors is introduced and includes professionals from Jacksonville, Fernandina, Orlando, Gainesville and Panama City. Among us is Bruce Smathers, former Florida politician and Secretary of State of Florida.

We Prepare to Board the C-2 Greyhound
The Carrier Onboard Delivery

distinguished visitors to board the C-2 Greyhound
After our briefing, we prepare to board the C-2 Greyhound, also known as the COD (Carrier Onboard Delivery) to take us to the Eisenhower. The COD is the only cargo aircraft in the world that can land and take off from an aircraft carrier. A short 45 minute flight to the Carrier 100 miles offshore of St. Augustine did not allow time for our friendly crew of the VRC 40 Rawhides to dispatch the beverage cart.

Did I mention this involves a tail hook landing on the Carrier? Yes we go from 120 mph to 0 in 2.5 seconds ... Awesome!!!! We are told, AFTERWARDS, that the tail hook landing experience we had was not much different than for an F/A-18 landing except that seats on the COD face backwards and we slam into the seat on the landing.

Arriving on Board the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower

distinguished visitors greeted by commanding officer
Arriving on board we are greeted by the whole host of commanding officers including Ike's Commanding Officer, Captain Dee Mewbourne and Rear Admiral Gary White, Commander Strike Force Training Atlantic. The warm reception instills an overwhelming since of pride and appreciation. The excitement of being on an active United States Aircraft Carrier as a DV is surreal and all the DVs are beaming in amazement.

The buffet for dignitaries style lunch makes up quite well for the lack of peanuts and soda on the COD flight. After a safety briefing and suiting up with the safety equipment we are off to the flight deck.

The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower is Loaded

aircraft on USS Dwight D. Eisenhower
The IKE is loaded with a compliment of 65 airplanes, including F/A-18Cs (Baby or Legacy Hornets), F/A-18 E/Fs Super Hornets (the F models are 2 seaters), EA-6B Prowlers, electronic attack aircraft, E-2C Hawkeye, Early Warning radar and communications platform, and H-60 Seahawk Helicopters. The operation is called COMPTUEX, which is a training operation done prior to their 6 month deployment to the middle east coming in early 2010.

Grab Your Earplugs!

F/A-18s are Launched Off the Catapults by the "Shooters"

uss dwight d eisenhower F/A-18s
Throughout the day the F/A-18s are launched off the catapults by the "Shooters." The Shooters are "too cool" to watch as they communicate to the pilot by their hand signals and body motions. Our group observes several catapult "shots" from about 100 ft away. Nothing short of incredible!

The shuffling of jets and launching can be done in less than a minute apart. The bevy of activity on the flight deck could be described as a mix of a synchronized three ring circus and a Ballet. The different deck crew jobs are identified by different colored uniforms, each performing their task in an organized timely fashion. It is truly amazing, also considering many of the seaman handling these $75+ Million aircraft are only 19-20 years old.

Jobs on the flight deck are rated as the 2nd most dangerous job in the world after crewing on Alaska crab fishing boats. Another testament to our times is that of the 5000+ sailors on board almost 1000 are women. No doubt that this is a valuable enrichment to life onboard a ship.

A Taste of the Top Gun Experience

The Controlled Crash Landing of F/A-18 Tailhook

Controlled Crash Landing of F/A-18 Tailhook
Jet landings on a carrier are better described as a controlled crash. The target area to hit one of 4 wires is about 90 feet long for the jet traveling at 140 mph. We watch from ring side on the flight deck as the morning launch group returns. The first plane misses the wires and "bolters." Pilots apply full throttle at touch down in order to fly off the deck if the hook misses the wires. The next try is successful and all others manage to grab a wire. I have watched these things on television many times, but it doesn't quite compare to actually being right there on deck seeing, feeling, hearing, and smelling all that is going on.

Picture Perfect Landing
F/A-18 Super Hornet - Pretty amazing to see this tailhook landing up close!

Another Picture Perfect Landing
E-2C Hawkeye! The plane! The plane! Check that landing you all.

Our Guides are Ensign Nunez and LCDR Shand

distinguished visitor Guides Ensign Nunez and LCDR Shand
With Sarah on the deck driving a bazillion ton aircraft carrier with 5000 people on board! From here we split up into two groups. Our guides, Ensign Nunez and LCDR Shand did a great job getting us to all of our scheduled locations which is no easy task. One statistic I did not see is how many sets of stairs and miles of hallways there are on the Eisenhower. There is a bunch and we probably only saw about 2% of the ship.

Another Picture Perfect Landing
H-60 Seahawk Helicopter. A bit quieter than the other landing.

Strike Group 8 of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower

Strike Group 8 of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower
We visit the radar room for the strike group, no pictures allowed here. This is the giant screen war room nerve center that you see in the movies. Here Captain Chris Field, Chief of Staff Carrier Strike Group 8, gives us the run down on the Strike Group which can bring a substantial force to any region of the world.

Strike Group 8 consists of the Eisenhower, 11 surface ships, a submarine and Carrier Airwing Seven CVW-7. In earlier times a strike group would be maintained as a cohesive unit. Today the ships may be deployed separately to various missions as needed around the world. There is always a group of destroyers and cruisers and usually a submarine detached with a Carrier as the primary defense against an attack on the Carrier.

The Carrier Airwing CVW-7 Includes Five Squadrons of F/A-18s

USS Dwight D Eisenhower Carrier Airwing CVW-7
The Carrier Airwing, CVW-7 includes five squadrons of F/A 18s along with the other important support aircraft. Several of the squadrons have a famous history dating back to WWII, such as the Jolly Rogers and the "Pukin' Dogs". For more information on the strike group, check out Dwight D. Eisenhower Strike Group.

More importantly to Captain Field was expressing to us the overall mission of the Navy which includes not only the protection of our country but also worldwide humanitarian causes and security to protect trade and the economic well-being for the whole planet. Check out the awesome video on the U.S. Navy Maritime Strategy.

A Trip to the Bridge 10 Stories Above the Flight Deck

uss dwight d eisenhower bridge
A trip to the Bridge 10 stories above the flight deck has the best view in the house. A young female seaman is at the helm, seemingly unfaced that she is driving a bazillion ton aircraft carrier with 5000 people on board. I thought to ask if the women actually do make better drivers, but I refrained. From this view it is interesting that because the flight deck is 10 stories above the water there is a blind spot in front of the ship of about 300 yards. Commander Shands, shares that once a coast guard cutter passing 100 yards in front completely disappeared from view.

Visiting the Air Boss on the Flight Bridge

Air Boss on the Flight Bridge
To describe all that we were able to see and hear during our stay would wind up a bit lengthy. In a nutshell we also visited, the Air Boss on Flight Bridge. From here they control the launch and recovery of the aircraft. Holding his coffee cup, I couldn't help but ask if he ever got buzzed and screamed "I want some butts!"

The Admirals Bridge Becomes Our Meeting Place

uss dwight d eisenhower admirals bridge
The Admirals Bridge just below becomes our meeting place. A trip to the ship store for souvenirs, where I pick up a great shirt, and then to our staterooms for a 10 minute break. We of course visit the massive hanger deck, where most of the maintenance and repairs occur, the engine test and maintenance is at the stern where they actually fire up and test jet engines.

We Visit the Jolly Rogers F/A-18 Squadron Ready Room

Jolly Rogers F/A-18 Squadron Ready Room
We visit air operations that keep track of where all the planes are, monitors fuel levels and coordinates air refueling. We visit the Jolly Rogers F/A-18 Squadron Ready Room where you can feel the intensity of pilots and weapons system officers preparing for a sortie. A talk from Master Chief Burke from Damage Control make us aware of the level of safety training and special training involved for fire fighting on board. The chaplain, CDR Brzek, offers services for all denominations or non religious shipmates alike as well as managing the ships library, internet cafe a place to "chillax."

Distinguished Visitors Are Awarded With a Five-Star Dinner

Distinguished Visitors Five-Star Dinner
The evening kicks off with a five star dinner hosted by Ike’s XO, Captain Ted Williams and attended by many of the commanding officers of the various departments. The meal was prepared and served in black tie by the ship's culinary specialists, many of them young men and women relatively new to the Eisenhower and the Navy. Once again we are impressed by the fanfare and professionalism of our treatment.

We finish off the evening by viewing the night launch and recovery of the 18s viewed from Vultures Row, outside of the Admirals Bridge. The high point here is the visible fire plume from the afterburners at the launch.

Ear Plugs! See the Fire from the Afterburners!
An awesome sight to see the fire plumes

Next Morning Reveille at 06:15AM in Goat's Locker

Next Morning Reveille at 06:15AM in Goat's Locker
The next morning starts out in Navy fashion with revile at 06:15AM. We have the regular breakfast buffet but with our special seating in the Chief Petty Officer hall. This hall is known as the "Goat's Locker" as this is where the "Old Goats" hang out. Command Master Chief Bryan Exum is our host and we share breakfast with a number of Chiefs, Senior Chiefs, and Master Chiefs. These are the men and women that have been around the block in the Navy and really run things at the hands on level. Thanks to Chief Briggs from Dallas, Chief Joice from LA and Senior Chief Dewald from Buffalo for sharing your Navy experience at our table.

The Medical Facilities are Very Well-Equipped

We then checkout the medical facilities, which as described by Senior Medical Officer, CDR Shimkus, is not the Mayo Clinic, but is very well equipped for their needs. She takes great pride in expressing the ability and dedication of her medical staff to overcome any lack of modernized equipment. The Eisenhower also has a complete dental facility which provides all services at no charge to shipmates and the Carrier Strike Group.

Visiting the Ordinance Control

uss dwight d eisenhower Ordinance Control
We check out the Ordinance Control area that accounts for all the bullets, bombs and missiles. Every one is accounted for, which is good since you don’t want to loose any bombs. Bomb parts are stored separately and assembled only prior to use. The 18s are performing practice runs with both dummy and live munitions. One 500 lb laser guided bomb costs $90,000. This is serious stuff!

Drumroll for the Finale -- The Catapult Launch

uss dwight d eisenhower catapult launch talk
At the end of our time on the Eisenhower we have yet one more grand finale experience, THE CATAPULT LAUNCH! We listen to the parting words of Captain Mewbourne and the XO, Captain Williams gives us the tips on HOW TO SURVIVE the launch.

We Prepare for Our Disembarkation

Disembarkation of distinguished visitors
As we prepare for our disembarkation, Sarah of Jacksonville and Kathy Sutton of Jacksonville Beach are a little anxious.

As we walk out to the COD, the nostalgia of our short visit is already setting in, as we try to take in the surroundings and embed all of the experience into our memory.

The Exciting Catapult Launch
Off the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower. May I say, going, going, GONE!

The Launch was Exciting - Time to Go!

disembarkation launch of distinguished visitors
The launch is indeed as exciting a 2 seconds as the tail hook landing. Kathy gives a thumbs up after the launch, and we are on the way back to NAS Jax. As a rank of the most exciting things that I have ever done (with my clothes on), the landing and launch are at #2. I have done a sky dive from 13,000 feet which still holds on to the #1 spot.

Thumbs Up Experience

distinguished visitor thumbs up experience
An important and very rewarding part of the Distinguished Visitors DV experience is the chance to meet and interact with a wide variety of the crew. The commanding officers and Petty officers come with a vast Navy experience, either joining out of college or coming up through the enlisted ranks.

The young seaman doing jobs from swabbing the decks to moving around jet airplanes do so knowing that their job is important to the operation and to their fellow shipmates. Common to all was a rich life experience, and a since of pride in doing their job as service to their country. Also evident from the Commanding officers and Chiefs was a clear sense of mentorship to their subordinates and a positive attitude on life in the Navy.

We, the Distinguished Visitors all come away with a keen appreciation of what Captain Mewborne and the other commanding officers had expressed to us; that "the Carrier, the planes and all the naval activities are amazing, but what really makes the Navy is the people."

the people make the navy blackbox

Reflections of a Distinguished Visitor
A place to make a rewarding life!

For me, it is a regret to not have had the opportunity to serve in the military, though in my era of Vietnam, the view of joining the military was not the same as it is today. As the times have changed, so has our military, but the values and heart and sole has been there all along and is still strong today. For young people, I can see no better place to begin a life experience and for many, a place to make a rewarding life.

Thanks to all of the officers and crew of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69), our COD crew, and Suzanne Speight, coordinator of the DV program for an amazing experience. ~Ray Brady

Keepsakes of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower

USS Eisenhower CVN-69 Small Pin. How About a Souvenir Hat Pin? This is a 1-1/4 inch metal pin. Wear as a ball cap hat pin or on a lapel. Comes with clutchback.

USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Collectible Coin. This coin is dedicated to the outstanding courage and commitment of all those who proudly serve aboard the U.S.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower. The obverse features the bust of the legendary General Eisenhower depicted above the ship named in his honor. Minted on the reverse is a rendering of the official emblem of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.

The Supreme Commander: The War Years of Dwight D. Eisenhower. In North Africa, on the beaches at Normandy, and in the Battle of the Bulge, Dwight David Eisenhower proved himself as one of the world's greatest military leaders. Faced with conciliating or disagreeing with such stormy figures as Churchill, Roosevelt, and DeGaulle, and generals like Montgomery and Patton, General Eisenhower showed himself to be as skillful a diplomat as he was a strategist.

Stephen E. Ambrose, associate editor of the General's official papers, analyzes his subject's decisions in The Supreme Commander, which Doubleday first published in 1970. Throughout the book Ambrose traces the steady development of Eisenhower's generalcy--from its dramatic beginnings through his time at the top post of Allied command.

Hope you enjoyed the visit!
What an awesome experience to board a SuperCarrier. Been on board another naval aircraft carrier? We'd love to hear from EVERYONE who has taken the time to visit today. Please take a moment to sign our guestbook. Thanks for dropping by.

History: A Distinguished Visitor : USS Dwight D. Eisenhower was originally created on Squidoo by JaguarJulie on November 25, 2009. On December 1, 2009 this lens earned the Purple Star Award for quality content.

No comments:

Post a Comment