Story by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Matthew Young, USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) Public Affairs
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – Members of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) Coalition of Sailors Against Destructive Decisions (CSADD) volunteered at Mary Passage Middle School to emphasize the importance of physical fitness May 15.
The community relations (COMREL) project was organized in correlation with the Navy-wide CSADD topic of the month - fitness.
“Since CSADD’s topic of the month was fitness, I felt it appropriate that we volunteer somewhere where we could participate in some sort of fitness event with the students,” said Religious Program Specialist 3rd Class Matthew Eviston, CSADD event coordinator. “As a command, Lincoln has volunteered there in the past with great results for both the school and the Sailors every time, so it was an easy decision to make.”
Throughout the course of the day, Lincoln Sailors helped supervise 14 classes of students varying from grades six to eight. Their day started before the students arrived, setting up obstacles for the obstacle course, and ended shortly before the students were released.
Lincoln Sailors participated in the raising of the flag in the morning as well as greeting the students. They also took time in the middle of the day to help out in a few sixth-grade classrooms and eat lunch with the sixth graders.
“Being at Mary Passage and getting to know some of the kids was an awesome experience,” said Aviation Structural Mechanic 3rd Class Samantha Thomas. “It was great to see all the energy and excitement that the students radiated. I had a blast running the obstacle course.”
Each class had a little under an hour to complete an obstacle course and tug-of-war match with a little help from the Sailors. The obstacle course included jumping rope, rock climbing, crawling, crab walking, running, and shimmying through tunnels made from gym mats.
“My favorite part of the COMREL was being able to actually participate in the tug-of-war,” said Eviston. “The students were so competitive and it was great to be able to see them get so into the tug-of-war, everyone was yelling and cheering, even the spectators!”
While some enjoyed the events, others enjoyed the friendships and connections that were made.
“The most enjoyable and memorable part of the COMREL was seeing one of the students who was physically disabled complete the obstacle course with all his friends and fellow students cheering him on,” said Chief Fire Controlman Bethany Ross, CSADD mentor.
From helping raise the flag, to playing tug-of-war with the students, Lincoln Sailors enjoyed a fun-filled day of physical fitness with students from Mary Passage Middle School.
Lincoln is currently undergoing a refueling and complex overhaul (RCOH) at Newport News Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries.
Lincoln is the fifth ship of the Nimitz-class to undergo a RCOH, a major life-cycle milestone. Once RCOH is complete, Lincoln will be one of the most modern and technologically advanced Nimitz-class aircraft carriers in the fleet, and will continue to be a vital part of the nation’s defense.