Top Military Officer, Celebrities Visit Nimitz in Persian Gulf

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By Journalist 3rd Class Dustin Q. Diaz, USS Nimitz Public Affairs

USS NIMITZ (NNS) — The Defense Department’s top military officer and a group of entertainment celebrities gave a welcome respite to thousands of Sailors and Marines at sea aboard the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) Aug. 18.

Nimitz and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11 were treated to a visit from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, who brought with him entertainers sponsored by the United Services Organization (USO). The celebrities included actress and model Leeann Tweeden, National Football League Hall of Fame running back Gale Sayers and comedians Colin Quinn and Jeffrey Ross.

The group flew aboard and observed flight operations before going to the ship’s immense hangar bay to have a show and meet the crew. Myers began the event with an inspirational message to the assembled Sailors and Marines.

“The main reason we’re out here is to say thanks for raising your right hand and swearing to defend the Constitution of the United States of America,” Myers said. “The peace and stability of this region is incredibly important, which is why we’re fighting to establish it. And when you’re all retired and the history books are written, you can all look back and say, ‘I was part of making that happen.’”

Tweeden then took the stage to thunderous applause. She talked about how she came to be a part of this, her seventh USO tour and fifth in the Middle East.

“A few years ago, I was asked by the USO if I wanted to entertain the troops, and although I was a little in shock, I said, ‘Of course!’” said Tweeden, currently co-hosting “The Best Damn Sports Show, Period” on the Fox Network.

Sayers compared his success as a member of the Chicago Bears with the Navy’s as a fighting force, using teamwork as the common denominator.

“There’s no way I would have made the Hall of Fame or set any of the records I did by myself,” Sayers said. “No matter how many yards I gained, whether it was three or 300, someone had to be there to make the block. Well, I played football, but you guys are out here giving a lot to make lives and to save lives. You need each other as much as we need you. Please continue to do what you’re doing.”

Myers, who has been serving in the armed forces for 40 years and as DoD’s highest-ranking officer for four years, took time to meet some of the crew after the show and thank them for their service. One Sailor in particular was excited to get the chance to shake the chairman’s hand and capture the memory with a photograph.

“I’m always excited to meet authority figures in our military, because I share their support of what we’re doing right now,” said Airman Francisco Delgado, from Albuquerque, N.M. “That’s why I joined the Navy to begin with. I’ve already met President Bush and members of his administration, and meeting Gen. Myers is a dream come true.”

“It shows that our leaders really do care about us,” added Aviation Electrician’s Mate 2nd Class (AW/SW) Charles Piggee, a resident of Stockton, Calif. “Not only did he take the time to meet us, but he brought America out to us, floating around on the water. We’re pretty excited about that.”

After giving away free autographed shirts, visors and footballs, the celebrities signed autographs, posed for pictures, and departed with Myers to bring a piece of home to the troops on the next stop of the tour.

Nimitz is currently deployed to the Persian Gulf in support of Maritime Security Operations (MSO). MSO set the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment, as well as complement the counter-terrorism and security efforts of regional nations. MSO deny international terrorists use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons or other material.


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