Right before Christmas, Mayport Executive Officer, Commander Pat Pickard sent Sharon Ellis, our True Blue: Navy Families Benefactors, Inc. Board Chair and President, an e-mail advising that he and Commanding Officer, Mayport Naval Station, Captain Douglas Cochrane wanted to nominate her for an upcoming Distinguished Visitor Embark on the USS HARRY S.TRUMAN. Was she interested? Despite being unfamiliar with what she was signing up for, her response was immediate – Yes!
The Navy’s DV Embark Program gives civilians an experience and raises awareness of our sailors’ day to day operational life. Typically, 12 civilians flew on a COD (carrier on delivery) to an aircraft carrier at sea, tour the ship and spend the night. Sharon and four other Jacksonville, FL civilians were selected for the USS HARRY S. TRUMAN DV Embark.
When Sharon told her husband, Michael, True Blue: Navy Families Benefactors, Inc. Board member and a former engineering and fueling officer aboard the USS NANTAHALA, a US Navy oiler, he gave her an immediate thumb up. She also told Captain William (Skip) Wheeler, USN (Retired), a cruiser officer, friend and Board Vice President, True Blue: Navy Families Benefactors, Inc. The Captain gave her comprehensive and invaluable details on what she would experience.
Sharon and her fellow DV’s flew from Naval Station Mayport to the USS HARRY S. TRUMAN experiencing an exciting tailhook landing going from 150 to 0 mph in three seconds. Upon landing on the USS HARRY S. TRUMAN, the DV’s: Were whistled aboard, saluted and warmly welcomed by the Executive Officer and sailors Experienced jets and helicopters launching and landing during the day at close, safe distance on the carrier deck and evening from Vulture’s Row and the incredible seamless team work involved Toured the magnificent carrier and learned the critical roles of each department’s sailors Enjoyed wonderful, healthy meals in the Officers’ mess, Enlisted’s mess and Chief Petty Officers’ mess with our nation’s finest men and women Experienced a spine tingling 4G COD launch and return flight to Mayport Sharon’s excitement about this incredible experience is an understatement. She was honored and humbled beyond words to be selected and participate in the USS HARRY S. TRUMAN DV Embark. Seeing what our men and women in uniform do day in and day out to keep our country safe is an experience like no other.
True Blue: Navy Families Benefactors, Inc. is an all volunteer nonprofit formed In January 2012 to enhance the quality of life for Jacksonville, Florida, Navy families.