Monday, April 12, 2021

My Mission: Deploy to the USS Ronald Reagan for 24 Hours

“If we have learned anything these last eight years,
it’s that peace through strength works.”
– President ReaganRadio address to the nation on foreign policy on September 24, 1988.
=========

I knew it was a long shot. A very long shot – however, when I heard that I was nominated for the ‘Distinguished Visitor’ (DVs) list for a future carrier media tour, I had a strong feeling that it was just a matter of time before my name was called for this very special ‘mission’. Nine months later, I received “the call” from the Deputy Public Affairs Officer. I was scheduled to leave on November 10th to fly out from North Island, complete a ‘trap’ landing, tour the USS Ronald Reagan, meet the sailors, spend the night and catapult off from the middle of the Pacific Ocean. UN.BE.LIEVE.A.BLE!

As the Publisher of eCoronado.com, I occasionally get to take part in special experiences both on and off the island. I usually coordinate with eCoronado.com members to either join me or in some cases, be the representative for eCoronado.com and report back to the community. For example, Ron Artigues did a great job covering and shooting photos of Airship Ventures’ Eureka Zeppelin. Dana Neibert captured some gorgeous photos of the Red Bull Air Races and recently covered the Coronado Speed Festival. However, when the Navy invites you to embark on a VIP tour aboard the USS Reagan, I believe it’s ok to be a bit selfish – ok, a lot selfish.

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The following is my experience over a 24 hour period. Please share your comments or stories after reading through the below post. It’s a long one, so take your time and soak it up. Keep in mind that I have never served in the military and that the tour was a complete, non-stop whirlwind adventure full of acronyms and naming conventions that were very new to me. That being said, if you have a correction to an acronym, Navy term, type of plane or something else to add, please feel free to post it in the comment area below.

Here is a that National Geographic did on building USS Ronald Reagan:

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Some background and stats on the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76):

  • Displacement: 97,000 tons with a full load and towering 20 stories above water line.
  • Length: 1,092 feet / Width: 252 feet
  • Aircraft: 70+
  • Flight Deck area: 4.5 acres
  • Top speed: more than 30 knots (34.5 mph)
  • Cost: $4.5 billion to build / $1 million to fully operate DAILY
  • Weapons: NATO Sea Sparrow Missiles, Rolling Airframe Missiles, guns and electronic warfare
  • Christened in Newport News, VA by Mrs. Nancy Reagan on March 4th, 2001. Commissioned July 12, 2003.
  • First carrier named after a living President (President Reagan died in 2004 at the age of 93)
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Sailors and Living Aboard

  • Commissioned in July 2003, making it the ninth Nimitz-class aircraft carrier.
  • Named after the 40th US President & carries motto “Peace Through Strength,” a recurrent theme during the Reagan presidency.
  • 4,400 men and women serve on board (from all 50 states and over 40 different nations)
  • Officers = 290, Enlisted = 4,110
  • Women account for 20% of crew and serve in all capacities alongside their male counterparts.
  • Average age of USS Reagan sailors is 22. Average age of Sailors working on flight deck is 20.
  • Berthing: More than 50 berthings around ship separated by gender
  • Bunk size: 3 feet height, 6.5 feet long and over 2 feet wide.
  • Meals: 15,000 served daily. 205 loaves of bread baked daily, 100 dozen eggs cooked daily and 250 gallons of milk consumed daily.
  • 5 Dentists, oral surgeon, 5 physicians and a 63 bed hospital provide quality care.
  • Chapel: 3 chaplains conduct daily religious services in interdenominational chapel.
  • 5 gyms spaced throughout the ship.
  • Civilian professors and distance learning courses provided to give Sailors opportunity for higher learning.

Day 0

The night before I left, I have to share with you that I was a little bit nervous. Of course I had butterflies regarding the ‘trap’ landing on a moving carrier at sea and the ‘catapult assisted launch’ that would take me from 0 to 128 mph in three seconds, but I also had thoughts about how to interact with all the different people I would meet on the ship. Being a civilian with faint ties to the military, I felt as if I was being dropped onto (literally) another planet filled with lifeforms speaking a foreign language and executing tasks in an environment I’ve never seen before. Further, I didn’t want to say or do anything that would reflect poorly on the other “Distinguish Visitors” or myself.

The closest I had ever been to a carrier was touring the USS Midway and playing Battleship with my family. I actually took out the game Battleship to explain to my kids (ages 5 and 7) why Daddy was flying onto a ship in the Pacific Ocean. I was already increasing my ‘cool Daddy factor’ just by acting out what it would be like to land on a carrier using the game pieces. It was pretty comical to say the least.

Day 1

Living in Coronado, I don’t drive very much. In fact, I pride myself on the spider webs under the belly of my car and how much use my bike gets here in town. However, my instructions told me to drive to the ‘Main Gate, NASNI’ parking lot to be met by the other 13 DVs and Steve Fiebing (Deputy Public Affairs Officer). About half of the DVs were from the Ronald Reagan Foundation, while the balance were made up of engineers, a venture capitalist, a video game designer, a homebuilder and a defense executive. I was the only one representing the media, so I had an excuse and an expectation from the group to take a lot of photos and video. Please note, captions will be placed above the images or videos they describe.

DVs getting ready to be driven onto Navy Air Station North Island.

I’ve been on base many times before, but never as a guest of Commander Naval Air Forces.

After we had dropped out bags at the base airport, we hopped in vans and drove to the Naval Air Forces building to get our briefing.

Steve Fiebing prepares us for our briefing while Admiral John Henry Towers watches over us.

Carpeting going upstairs to the briefing room:

The halls were filled with historical photos. This photo is of the very first aircraft carrier: The USS Langley:

Captain J.R. Nettleton gave us a 25 minute briefing on maritime strategy, mission of an aircraft carrier, the future of Naval aviation and what to expect on our tour. Captain Nettleton works for Commander Naval Air Forces (who is a three star – Vice Admiral Allen Myers).

Your Naval Air Force

– 11 aircraft carriers
– 10 carrier air wings
– 25 naval air stations
– 168 fleet, reserve and training squadrons
– 3600+ aircraft
– 100,000+ personnel

A Force for Good: Operation Unified Response (Haiti)

– USS Carl Vinson / CVW-17 were first responders
– Delivered more than 1.1 million pounds of aid
– 19 VINSON helicopters flew more than 1,000 hours and evacuated more than 500 patients
– Support efforts continue

 

Captain Nettleton’s briefing was very informative and he is the first person to stress to us to take time to get to know the sailors of the ship (a theme we would hear throughout the trip). He emphasized spending time with the enlisted sailors who are the heart and soul of the ship and have some of the most demanding jobs at just 18 years old. He also showed a dry sense of humor especially when he commented on the ‘age of the pilots’ in this clip:

As Captain Nettleton wraps up the Powerpoint, one of the final slides gets our attention: Your flight in the C-2A “COD” (Carrier Onboard Delivery). Why yes, that’s Bruce Willis in the shot below:

We thank Captain Nettleton for his time and we are quickly taken back to the NAS North Island DV Terminal for the aircrew safety brief and departure by C-2 aircraft to the carrier. My heart begins to beat a little faster at this point.

Matt Gonabe is a C-2 pilot and representative for The Providers VRC-30 (Fleet Logistics Support Squadron Three Zero). He shared that he was one of the newer guys to the squadron and therefore got chosen to do this DV briefing.

According to The Providers website:

VRC-30 is a command which must provide robust service to the fleet in a safe and expeditious manner. The movement of high priority cargo, mail and passengers to and from Pacific Fleet aircraft carriers on time and with seamless transfer is our goal. Responsive service to the fleet will be a good measure of our reputation, recognition, operational excellence and will ultimately result in appropriate resources. We can never lose sight of our customer’s needs.

VRC-30’s primary focus remains to:

1. Provide detachments manned and ready to deploy in support of the joint combatant commanders.
2. Deliver high priority logistics support to local aircraft carriers.
3. Train pilots, aircrew and maintainers in order to deploy.
4. Conduct DV missions
5. Support Naval Special Warfare

I popped in my Navy issued earplugs, put on my ‘collar’ and my cranial helmet with goggles. I was ready to board. It actually was very comfortable, even though I couldn’t hear a thing!

Here we are on our way to the C-2 (my first flight from North Island):

Loading into the rear of the plane:

A look inside – note that we are seated backwards in order to lessen the ‘jolt’ when we trap land.

I’m feeling very safe in my 4-point harness:

It was very loud on the plane and the flight took about 40 minutes. There were two small windows, but I wasn’t near them, so I don’t have any shots of the USS Reagan from the air.

We experienced deceleration from 105 to 0 mph in two seconds. It was actually smoother than I thought it would be. Here is a short video that I shot just as we land on the carrier. As I type this, I really can’t believe that I just said ‘land on the carrier’.

As the back of the C-2 opened up to the 4.5 acre flight deck, we were met with jets taking off, loading vehicles maneuvering around and an orchestra of people in different colors managing deck operations (more on this later). I thought for a moment, we would have time to snap a few photos, but the clock was ticking and we were hurried off the deck and into the Captain’s quarters inside. Our flight ‘gear’ was collected and when I turned the corner, I entered the In-port cabin also called the “Red Room”:

The USS Reagan Red Room is modeled after the original White House Red Room that Nancy Reagan was so fond of – in fact, Mrs. Reagan is the ship’s sponsor and christened the USS Reagan in Newport News, Virginia on March 4, 2001. Throughout the ship’s Red Room were original decorations and furniture donated by the Reagan foundation and other Reagan supporters. This is where the Captain commands and entertains guest while in-port. It has a bedroom adjacent to it, but we did not gain access to that room.

My grandparents (Harry and Shirley Johnson) were huge Reagan supporters and I don’t think either one of them would have left this room. I opted not to take one of the Gipper’s jelly beans!

Below is the desk from when President Reagan served as Governor of California. Pictured below are Rear Admiral Thomas Rowden (Commander, Carrier Strike Group SEVEN) and to his right, Commander Kevin Lenox who serves as the Executive Officer (XO) and is second in command. The XO is responsible for the organization, performance of duty, good order and discipline of the command. Captain Thom Burke (Commanding Officer) was attending other duties and unable to greet us at this time.

Admiral Rowden and Commander Lenox gave us an additional welcome and introduction to what we would see during our tour. They both stressed the importance meeting the sailors (especially the enlisted men and women). They echoed what Captain Nettleton said earlier at our first briefing regarding the importance of the entire crew and how this USS Reagan’s mission is only successful when everyone pulls together. Having these high ranking officers set the tone early really helped me to appreciate of all sailors on board.

As we enjoyed some refreshments in the Red Room, one of the DVs asked Admiral Rowden about the USS Reagan’s involvement in aiding the cruise ship Splendor (operated by Carnival). Here is a short video of his response.

On the way to the next briefing, I snapped this shot of one of the many doorways in the hall of the ship. I stand about 6′ 3”, so I kept a constant forward lean as a walked so that I could save myself from getting scalped. The phrase ‘get small’ kept being repeated as we traveled through the ship. I also noticed how every sailor would stop to allow us to pass first. We appreciated this since we had a bigger group and didn’t want to get lost, but I felt a little guilty of getting in their way and slowing them down on their way to ‘work’. I tried my best to hustle and be as little hindrance to the ongoing mission as I could.

Great, now I know exactly where I am when I get lost!

We were then taken to a briefing room to meet our “tour guides” that would escort us around the ship and be our primary contacts. I think they were more like ‘Distinguished Visitor herders’ to make sure we didn’t get into too much trouble or make a wrong turn (which many of us did). They average about three DV tours a week – don’t worry, we all still felt very extremely special and appreciated. Our guides included:

– LCDR Meadows – Public Affairs Officer (10 years of service)
– LT. Flores – Assistant Public Affairs Officer (21 years of service)
– AC1 Patlan – (8 years of service)
– MC3 Cole – (3 years of service)

Guides MC3 Cole and AC1 Patlan stand near a doorway surrounded by DVs. Note the amazing amount of doors over the shoulder of AC1 Patlan – it looks like a mirror at times and that it goes on forever.

We traveled to the Combat Direction Center (CDC) which is essentially the nerve center of the USS Reagan as well as surrounding ships. It monitors all activities and has more monitors than Best Buy.

 

We arrived at Engine 3 to be given an overview of how the arresting cable system works. I captured a good chunk of how it works in this video.

The two sailors that were in charge of Engine 3 looked a lot like the Incredible Hulk image below:

Over the course of my adventure, I tended to stay towards the back of the group so that I would have additional time to capture shots. MC3 Cole (pictured with me below) was on ‘caboose patrol’ so I was able to interact with him throughout the tour. Aside from escorting DVs, he also works on the USS Reagan weekly publication by providing photos and stories. He also shared with me that he does a ‘Man on the Ship’ video segment similar to Jay Leno’s ‘Jaywalking’ and public service announcements to help educate the sailors. For example, Cole did a PSA about making sure to return silverware and not horde it or throw it overboard. Nearly everywhere we went, everyone knew Cole. If Cole had a call sign, I think it would be ‘Hollywood’ or ‘Hearst’.

One of the three Chaplains aboard the USS Reagan. They offer daily religious services in an interdenominational chapel. They also offer prayer and counsel for the sailors.

The ship has a library, movie room, and internet cafe. I thought this sign in the internet cafe was very appropriate:

Now we come to the room that my 5-year-old boy would stay all day. The Handler (yellow jersey) has a ‘Ouija board’ as the flight deck and hangar deck with ‘toy’ aircraft as well as a pin and nut system. In his words, he called it ‘Nut-ology’. It involves putting different pins, nuts, bolts, washers on the different crafts in order to keep track of repairs, cleaning or just where it needed to be placed before or after flights. I did read an article that talked about replacing this ‘low-tech’ management system with an electronic system, but according to the Handler, this is the best way to manage the flight deck. Time will tell. Be sure to watch the video after the below photos:

 

 

We made our way up to the navigation bridge where we were able to meet Commanding Officer Captain Thom Burke. CAPT Burke was preparing to oversee the launch and recovery operations, so it’s understandable that we didn’t get 100% of his attention. He was polite and posed for a few photos and then was back to work. We were able to stay and observe day flight operations. Photos and videos are below:

Any leader with a patch of a sword going through the head of a wolf has my full attention!

The crew prepares for launch.

A perfect day to catapult from 0 – 128 mph in three seconds. Even from above the sounds were deafening. It was truly beautiful watching planes launch from the ship and soar over the open Pacific. We were all snapping photos and videos and beaming with pride. I felt the raw power of the USS Reagan and marveled at the crew as they prepped planes for launch completely error free and functioning like a single body.

LCDR Meadows (Public Affairs Officer) guides the group along as we make our way to our rooms.

My roommate and I were stationed in the “Patriotism” room in DV row:

We were greeted to extra large beds with towels, complimentary toiletry bag/supplies and a USS Reagan robe. The room also had two desks, a sink, television and plenty of storage. Most sailors have a bunk size of 3 feet high, 6.5 feet long and 2 feet wide. They have space located under their bunk and in a locker measuring only 5 cubic feat. You could fit about 16 sailors in our room. What they didn’t tell us was that our rooms were right below the flight deck. We didn’t get much sleep during our stay, but we could all handle it for one night.

We made our way to the eating area for a snack and if you looked close enough, ‘hidden’ Reagan mementos were everywhere.

Next up was getting a safety brief from the USS Reagan Shooters to prepare us to go onto the flight deck to watch launch and recovery up close. Shooters are Naval Flight Officers responsible for launching aircraft.

 

“I can’t believe they are letting us on the flight deck – this is unreal!”

I have never heard such powerful sounds and witnessed such a beautiful chorus of activities. I’m going to let the photos and videos speak for themselves.

F/A-18 preparing for launch. F/A stands for Fighter/Attack.

Video of launches from flight deck.

The sailors in the red jerseys are Ordnance Handlers, EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) & Crash and Salvage.

Green jerseys represent Operations Personnel, Catapult and Arresting Gear Personnel, Ground Support Equipment Maintenance Personnel.

Brown jerseys are worn by Plane Captains (Crew Chiefs and Mechanics)

Soaring high!

During the recovery part of the operation, ‘birds’ were landing about 30 yards away from us. You can see the arresting cable is on a few yards away from us.

Notice in this shot that the F/A-18 has the after burners on – pilots don’t know if they have caught the cable or not, so when they land, they max out power in case the cable doesn’t catch or breaks. If it doesn’t catch, they need to be able to have enough power to take off again.

 

 

Here comes an E-2 Hawkeye.

Note how the planes hang out of the side of the ship. The crew really knows how to maximize space.

A quick snapshot of one of the eating areas on the ship.

The photo below is of the USS Reagan POW/MIA table. Here is the explanation and symbolism of it:

You may notice this small table here in a place of honor. It is set for one. This table is our way of symbolizing that members of our profession of arms are missing from our midst. They are commonly call P.O.W.’s or M.I.A.’s, we call them brothers.

They are unable to be with us this evening and so we remember them.

This table set for one is small… it symbolizes the frailty of one prisoner against his oppressors.

The table cloth is white… it symbolizes the purity of their intentions to respond to their country’s call to arms.

The single rose displayed in a vase reminds us of the families and loved ones of our comrades in arms who keep faith awaiting their return.

The red ribbon tied so prominently on the vase is reminiscent of the red ribbon worn on the lapel and breasts of thousands who bear witness to their unyielding determination to demand a proper accounting for our missing.

A slice of lemon is on the bread plate… to remind us of their bitter fate.

There is salt upon the bread plate… symbolic of the family’s tears as they wait.

The glass is inverted… they cannot toast with us tonight.

The chair is empty… they are not here.

Remember… all of you who served with them and called them comrades, who depended on their might and aid, and relied on them… for surely… they have not forsaken you.

For dinner, we were treated to wonderful meal from the cooking staff. I was told that this was a special DV dinner and that they don’t normally eat like this.

The XO welcomed us again and told a few stories about the individuals on the ship that make everything happen. He stressed that when we talk about our USS Reagan experience we share stories about how hard the crew works to operate the USS Reagan and support the overall mission. I can tell you firsthand that the USS Reagan crew is made up of the highest quality of people that are determined to serve our country. They serve and sacrifice so that we may enjoy our freedom daily. I was honored to witness this in person during my stay aboard.

I was fortunate to dine with LCDR Kate Meadows (Public Affairs Officer) and LCDR Laura Bishop (Staff Judge Advocate). What struck me most about my new friends was how personable and easy the conversation was. We spoke about the ship, being deployed and being away from friends and family. That was the toughest part about being deployed for both of them. Both have served for over 10 years and I thanked them for their service and especially for spending time all of us visiting the USS Reagan. It was a wonderful meal surrounded by great people – I felt like we were at a restaurant in San Diego rather than the middle of the Pacific on a nuclear carrier!

Just when I thought the day was winding down, we were led to another observation area to observe night flight operations. Someone asked if we were going to go onto the deck and we were told that it was too dangerous for us to be down there at night. We had a great view of the entire operation as you’ll see from these photos and videos:

After burners at night.

My camera was not able to capture the fast-moving landing of this F/A-18, but you can see the sparks from the tailhook that catches the cable.

We went back to our rooms to turn in for the night. By this time it was about 10pm and I was feeling very tired from one of the most amazing days of my life. Our escorts told us to be ready to go at 0600 and my roommate and I agreed it was a good time to turn in for the night.

Let me tell you that sleeping on a carrier (even in a comfortable DV room) is one of the loudest experiences of your life. At every hour, we heard hatch doors closing, chains dragging, flight deck operations (directly above us) and many other sounds that I have never heard before. Since I didn’t bring my earplugs or iPod, I didn’t get much sleep that night. However, I knew that the sailors were doing their jobs and I had nothing to complain about. We were up the next morning at 0545.

Day 2

Images of President Reagan were everywhere on the ship.

They even had a replica of the Hollywood Walk of Fame in certain parts of the ship.

Early morning on the hangar deck.

Berthing Recap: More than 50 berthings around the ship separated by gender. Here is an example of bunks stacked 3 high. Bunk size: 3 feet height, 6.5 feet long and over 2 feet wide. Space located under each bunk and in a locker measuring 5 cubic feet.

I really like this shot. It shows the contrast between civilian and sailor.

As I’m looking out at the massive USS Reagan wake, I’m thinking about how different and insulated my life is in Coronado. It’s so easy to forget about the men and women serving our country in far away lands or just off the coast of our community. I felt so proud to be an American and getting to experience this first hand – to thank the sailors in person for serving our country and protecting the freedom of my family specifically.

 


Video of the massive wake made by the ship.
3 of the best DV guides: MC3 Cole (aka Hollywood), LT. Flores and AC1 Patlan:

The entire DV group:

We spent some time aft to learn more about testing plane engines and after burners. They test them on the end of the ship pointed towards the ocean for obvious reasons:

This is a close up of an after burner.

FOD stands for ‘foreign object damage’. Chuck Norris helps to remind us to fight FOD.

I feel better about my computer cords under my desk after seeing these:

The USS Reagan has a mini-museum filled with photos, quotes and artifacts from the Reagan years. This one really stood out to me:

Snapped this shot of a mural walking through one of the halls.

We made our way back to the hangar deck.

I was informed that this was an inspection of dress blues. The are spaced out accordingly and eyes are straight ahead (right into the light).

This information below was taken from the USS Reagan PR kit:

During special ship evolutions a battle flag is flown from the mast of U.S. Navy Ships. The USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) battle flag continues this tradition with a design created exclusively by her plankowner crew to honor our namesake.

Like the ship’s seal, each aspect of the battle flag has relevance to President Reagan.

– His personal military experience began in 1935 when he enlisted as a private in Troop B, 322nd Cavalry – the reason for the letter B and the numbers 322.
– In April of 1937 he earned a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the Reserve Corps of Cavalry. The red over white background is reminiscent of the 11th Cavalry’s original guidon (or flag) and later, their unit’s patch.
– The crossed sabers reflect those found on the cover or cap of a Cavalry officer as early as the 1800s.
– The number 76 refers to the hull number of USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76).

This information below was taken from the USS Reagan PR kit:

The ship seal was designed by USS Ronald Reagan’s plankowner crew with historical assistance provided by staff members at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation in Simi Valley, Calif.

– Red border rings the ship’s seal much like the distinctive red rim defined the White House China.
– Four gold stars represent Reagan’s 40th presidency and his four pillars of freedom: individual liberty; promoting economic opportunity; advancing global democracy; and instilling national pride.
– The aircraft carrier is positioned by the West Coast, representing Reagan’s two terms as Governor of California.
– The three aircraft with patriotic contrails symbolize the three major military operations directed during President Reagan’s tenure: Operation Urgent Fury; Operation El Dorado Canyon; and Operation Preying Mantis.
– The view of the globe signifies the President’s vision of global democracy.
– Colors red, white and blue dominate the seal reflecting the American flag and Reagan’s love for the flag.

The chain that holds the anchor in place is quite a sight. Each link weighs over 300 pounds! When the USS Reagan needs to be anchored, the chain is let out and the anchor actually attaches to the chain. When you are dealing with a ship that displaces 97,000 tons, you need a very heavy and strong chain.

Note the sailor painting on the ground.

LT. Flores shared a very special story about how the ship’s bell is used to baptize infants of sailors that serve on the USS Reagan. During a special ceremony, the bell is inverted, filled with blessed water and the baptism takes place. Afterwords, the name of the child is engraved inside the bell.

Their ‘office’ is directly below the anchor’s chain – I can only imagine how loud it must get.

Health: The USS Reagan has 5 dentists, an oral surgeon, 5 physicians and a 63 bed hospital ward.

Our most comfortable seats were found in the pilot’s ‘ready room’. LT. “Dirk” Rigler gave us a briefing about his squadron: The Blue Diamonds of VFA-146. He had a great sense of humor and enjoyed walking us through the slides.

LT. Rigler took some time to answer questions as well during his presentation. When asked if he would rather fly alone versus have a co-pilot and what his thoughts were on having the ship land his plane versus having him land his plane. He smiled and said: “Speaking for myself, I want to pilot my own plane and land my own plane without the assistance of a co-pilot or having the ship’s computer do it for me.” We all enjoyed his confidence and had no doubt that he was very good at his job – and that he loved it.

Captain Burke (on left) made a quick appearance before we went into our final safety briefing. He thanked us for coming out and expressed his apologies for being a bit busy during our trip. We expressed our thanks to him and his crew and wished them well on their mission.

My face is showing a combination of trying to look “Top Gun” tough while being a bit nervous about the catapult off the ship.

The DVs make their way to the C-2A and I take my final shot aboard the USS Reagan.

In this video, we get shot off the deck at the 28 second mark:

About 40 minutes after catapulting off the USS Reagan (accelerating from 0 to 128 mph in three seconds), we arrived safely at Naval Air Station North Island on Coronado. After landing on a moving carrier, I don’t think I’ll ever think twice about landing on solid ground in a commercial plane. Needless to say, the pilots from VRC-30 (Providers) nailed the landing at North Island.

Mission completed and I have the certificate, commemorative coin and “1 trap” patch to prove it:

If you made it this far, congratulations! It’s taken me almost two weeks to go through all the video, photos and notes that I took. It’s hard to explain this type of trip/adventure if you have never been on an active carrier while at sea. I hope my words, photos and videos have done the experience justice.

 

Living in Coronado you see Navy men and women every day. It’s easy to become numb to what they are doing for us and our country. In fact, in Coronado, I’ve overheard a small percentage of locals complain about the noise the planes and helicopters make as they fly over Coronado beach en route to North Island. I can tell you that I’m not going to complain about the noise of freedom flying over my head. I’m going to stop talking, pause and wish them well on their mission.

 

Lastly, a special thanks to Commander Alan Worthy (HSC-23) for nominating me for this DV tour. I was truly humbled and honored to take part in this experience and I hope that our readers come away with more pride and respect for those in the military and especially the crew of the USS Ronald Reagan.

 

V/r (very respectfully),

Steve Johnson
Publisher, eCoronado.com

Keep it civil. Comments may be removed or closed if they violate Terms of Service.

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