Thursday, September 17, 2009

USS McCampbell Hosts 9/11 Survivor

Sailors aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell (DDG 85) welcomed retired New York City Fire Department Capt. Alfredo Fuentes, a survivor of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center for a luncheon and tour of the ship. Fuentes's visit to McCampbell was part of his visit to Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka where he served as guest of honor and keynote speaker at the base's annual 9/11 memorial event. The tour began with McCampbell's Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Charles Johnson formally welcoming Fuentes aboard the ship. After receiving a ship's coin and McCampbell ball cap, Fuentes presented Johnson with an autographed copy of his book American by Choice. McCampbell's antisubmarine warfare officer and New York City native Ensign Ander Heiles led Fuentes through numerous spaces on the ship, including the combat information center, MK 45 five-inch gun mount loader room and the ship's damage control spaces. Fuentes then joined McCampbell Sailors on the mess decks for lunch. Before the meal, Fuentes expressed his appreciation for the crew and the work they do."I have to tell you I'm honored and humbled to be in your presence today," Fuentes said. "The way we responded in New York is the way you guys respond everyday to not just combat situations, but also to your humanitarian missions. I thank you for what you do for our country." Following lunch, Fuentes autographed an American flag hanging in the mess decks. The tour concluded with visits to the ship's pilot house and forecastle. Gunner's Mate 2nd Class Alejandro Martinez-Rodrigues of Makakilo, Hawaii, who explained the functions of the MK 45 five-inch gun mount to Fuentes, described the importance of hosting a hero on the ship. "It takes you back to that day and reminds you why we're doing what we do. You have a lot of important people who visit the ship, a lot of commanders who direct our actions, but when you get someone who actually survived the attack, it's a different situation," said Martinez-Rodrigues. "I was very proud to have him aboard and talk about the role we play in the naval service." USS McCampbell is one of seven Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers assigned to Destroyer Squadron 15 and is permanently forward-deployed to Yokosuka, Japan.

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