News: Sailors celebrate, educate with Omaha Navy Week
Story by Staff Sgt. Daniel Martinez
OMAHA, Neb. -- Sailors assigned to U.S. Strategic Command ensure mission success through crucial day-to-day operations, yet despite their critical role, the Navy's presence isn't always felt here in Omaha due to the relatively small number of sailors assigned here.
Omaha Navy Week educated the public about the Navy mission in the Omaha area as well as across America while highlighting the sailors who contribute to the nation's defense. Omaha Navy Week kicked off Sept. 6 and ended Sept. 11 with a Blue Angels appearance at the Guardians of Freedom air show.
"Navy Week is a community driven event that is conducted by the Navy Office of Community Outreach that goes out into areas where there's not a large population of Navy personnel," said Master Chief Petty Officer Donald Carter, USSTRATCOM Navy Element senior enlisted leader. "It's just one way to show how the Navy is an important part of the community."
Carter said it also serves as an important recruiting tool by presenting the opportunity for individuals to get a firsthand look at what the Navy does.
"One thing I hope people will take away is that the Navy is here and it's a viable option for high school graduates or for people who are looking at military service," he said.
Navy Week culminates into various events where sailors engage the public and provide various community services. Some Omaha events included speaking engagements at the Boys and Girls Club, visiting with veterans at the Veterans Affairs Hospital, public performances from the Navy Band, as well as the Guardians of Freedom Air Show in Lincoln, Neb.
"For me personally, the highlight was going to the veteran's hospital because I like spending time with the veterans," Carter said. "I have a deep appreciation for what they did when they were on active duty regardless of what service they were in, and I have a deeper understanding that I'm here because of them."
He added that it provides an opportunity for younger sailors to be involved and said, "It's a chance for them to get out in the community and go places they probably would not go, or to see things they normally wouldn't see, and have an opportunity to infuse positive objectivity to young people about what their outlook in the Navy could be."
Vice Adm. Cecil Haney, USSTRATCOM deputy commander, highlighted Navy Week and Navy history while giving a speech at Creighton University as part of the Asian World Center's Distinguished Lecture series, Sept. 9.
"Some of you may be wondering how in the world is the Navy connected to the Heartland and to Omaha itself? After all, we're located some 1,000 miles away from the nearest ocean and Omaha is not a place that typically comes to mind as a center for Navy Week festivities," Admiral Haney said. "In fact, Omaha has ties to our naval history and tradition that go back more than a hundred years. Our Navy has given the name USS Omaha to several of its warships, dating from over a century ago."
In addition to the warships namesake ties to the local area, the Navy's presence at Offutt dates back to 1960 when the Joint Strategic Target Planning Staff was created to coordinate strategic nuclear targeting and develop the Single Integrated Operations Plan. In 1992, USSTRATCOM replaced JSTPS and Strategic Air Command as a result of the end of the Cold War. Adm. Henry Chiles became the first Navy officer assigned to lead USSTRATCOM in 1994. The Navy's role at USSTRATCOM was further expanded upon in 2002 after the command was restructured and reestablished a second time with added mission areas. The Navy currently has a hand in space, global strike, integrated missile defense operations, strategic reconnaissance, and maintains the E-6B TACAMO aircraft, or the airborne command post.