Story by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Carla Ocampo
Photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Benjamin Crossley

The Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Ray Mabus visited the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) May 16 off the coast of southern California.

Mabus ate lunch with John C. Stennis Strike Group Warfare Commanders, observed flight deck operations and addressed Sailors to thank them for their service.

Upon arriving aboard Stennis, Mabus was welcomed by Commander, John C. Stennis Strike Group, Rear Adm. Joseph Aucoin, and Stennis’ Commanding Officer Capt. Ronald Reis.

In the hangar bay, Mabus addressed Sailors during an all hands call and talked about the important role the Navy plays in humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, and the war on terror.

“There is no other country in the world that can do those things, and there is no other service in the world that can do those things, except the United States Navy and Marine Corps,” said Mabus.

During his speech, Mabus expressed his appreciation for Sailors’ efforts aboard Stennis and around the fleet.

“Thank you for what you do, day in and day out,” said Mabus. “What you do is hard, what you do is exhausting, what you do is dangerous, and what you do always requires sacrifice.”

Mabus, a Mississippi native, took time to shake hands and personally speak to Sailors from his home state.

“There’s a nice connection with him being from Mississippi, and this being a ship named after a Senator from Mississippi,” said Aviation Maintenance Administrationman Master Chief Rick Gilman (AW/SW), Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department leading chief petty officer.

Mabus answered questions from Sailors, including questions about Marines and Sailors in Afghanistan.

By taking time out of a busy schedule, Mabus’ visit demonstrated his pride for Sailors and what they do for the country.

“It was a morale booster,” said Information Systems Technician Chief (SW/AW) Wilfredo Casillas. “Sometimes folks lose focus and they think that the outside world doesn’t notice. The SECNAV’s visit shows that we’re being paid attention to and that what we do is important.”

John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group is participating in a composite training unit exercise off the coast of southern California in preparation for deployment later this year.

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