Constitution Sailors Complete Successful Omaha Navy Week

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Story Number: NNS140725-07Release Date: 7/25/2014 10:40:00 AM

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class John Benson, USS Constitution Public Affairs

OMAHA, Neb. (NNS) -- USS Constitution Sailors concluded a successful trip to Omaha Navy Week on Sunday, July 20.

A team of five Sailors from Old Ironsides, led by Constitution's Executive Officer, Lt. Cmdr. Eric Coop, helped promote America's Navy and America's Ship of State throughout the Omaha area during the Navy Week, July 14 - July 20.

Omaha Navy Week was the fourth of five Navy Weeks Constitution Sailors will participate in throughout 2014. The primary purpose of Navy Weeks is to increase awareness by presenting the U.S. Navy to Americans who live in cities that normally do not have a significant naval presence. Omaha Navy Week showcased the mission, capabilities and achievements of the U.S. Navy and provided residents the opportunity to meet Sailors firsthand.

Constitution's week began with a visit to the Omaha Children's Hospital as part of the Caps for Kids campaign to visit with child patients and present them with their own USS Constitution command ball cap, followed by a visit to Omaha Children's Museum/Charlie Campbell Science and Technology Center Children's Hospital as part of the Caps for Kids campaign.

"Speaking with all the children about the Navy really made my week special," said Electrician's Mate 2nd Class Gilbert Caine, a member of Constitution's Omaha team. "It's incredible to see that something as simple as a ball cap could potentially inspire the next generation of sailors."

Constitution Sailors then sorted dry goods at the Food Bank for the Heartland to assist with the organization's goal of distributing food to the area. In a matter of hours, Constitution's Omaha crew was able to package approximately 349 lbs. of dry macaroni for distribution.

"Sorting dry goods doesn't sound like much fun, but we enjoyed it," said Ship's Serviceman 2nd Class Justin Howard. "It's not a glamorous job, but it goes to a very good cause - feeding families."

Following the Food Bank for the Heartland visit, the Constitution Crew stopped by the North Omaha Boys & Girls Club to give a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) presentation about Old Ironsides and her rich history to more than 100 students.

"It really struck home for me," said Boatswain's Mate 1st Class Chris Haws, a Constitution Omaha participant. "I grew up near a Boys & Girls Club and it was rewarding knowing that I was able to reach out and teach these children about the history of the Navy."

Constitution Sailors also performed two color guards, dressed in their 1813-era uniforms, at the Jazz on the Green music festival on Thursday and Navy Day with the Omaha Stormchasers Minor League Baseball team on Friday. A combined total of more than 5,000 people were in attendance for the events.

"It's an honor to present the nation's flag," said Howard. "People are so grateful to see that there are still dedicated men and women protecting them."

The week concluded with another STEM presentation at the Omaha Riverfest on Saturday, where Lt. Cmdr. Coop and the rest of the Constitution Crew were dressed in their 1813-era uniforms to interact with and educate visitors of all ages.

"The crew and I really enjoyed Omaha," said Coop. "It's a nice town with very friendly people, and it's always a pleasure to interact with the public. I'm glad we were able to be part of a very successful Navy Week."

Constitution's Omaha crew is now back in Boston to prepare for the ship's Chief Petty Officer Heritage weeks to be held during the last two weeks of August, followed by participation in Baltimore Navy Week in September.

"Omaha left a great impression on me," said Caine. "I didn't know what to expect before I arrived, but I'm thankful to have been chosen to represent Constitution in Omaha."

USS Constitution, the world's oldest commissioned warship afloat, actively defended sea lanes against global threats from 1797 to 1855. Now a featured destination on Boston's Freedom Trail, Constitution and her crew of U.S. Navy Sailors offer community outreach and education about the ship's history and the importance of naval seapower to more than 500,000 visitors each year.

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