By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Mark Logico,
USS John C. Stennis Public Affairs
USS JOHN C. STENNIS, At sea, -- Vice President Dick Cheney visited the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) while underway in the Persian Gulf to meet with more than 5,000 Sailors and Marines, May 11.
Cheney came aboard to personally acknowledge Stennis' contributions to ongoing operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Maritime Security Operations (MSO) in the region.
"Throughout the region, our country has a mission to protect and a commitment to honor," said Cheney. "America is a nation that keeps its promises and for that we send the United States military."
The vice president also noted that the sacrifices of other American Sailors in the U.S. 5th Fleet are making the world a safer and better place for future generations.
"I've never been so proud of the United States Navy," said Cheney. "It's an incredibly challenging time for the country. You're doing all that we ask of you, and you're doing it with skill and with honor. I'm here to say thank you."
This visit by Cheney marked his second trip to Stennis in five years during his tenure as Vice President. In early 2002, Cheney came aboard Stennis to recognize the ship's efforts that marked the beginning of the U.S. Navy's ongoing support for Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
Stennis' Commanding Officer, Capt. Brad Johanson, reflected what Cheney's visit meant to the Sailors and Marines aboard the ship.
"It is a distinct honor to host the Vice President of the United States of America on board Stennis," said Johanson. "His visit today sends a clear message how essential our mission is to ensuring our nation's security and the President's vision for global stability. The Vice President's visit in the Gulf to Stennis reaffirms our nation's leadership is committed to our mission, our service, and our Sailors and Marines."
Sailors and Marines appreciated the visit from the vice president.
"It's a morale booster for the crew and an honor to have the vice president on board our ship," said Seaman Chris Rasco, from Stennis' supply department. "It shows that our actions here in the area are being noticed."
Stennis and embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9 recently reached the halfway point in the Strike Group's deployment, May 10.
"There is a sense of accomplishment," said Rasco, a native of Lewisville, Texas. "There is no better way to show how much we have done than to have the vice president come out here. It shows us that what we are doing definitely has an impact."
In an effort to discuss key issues of mutual interest in the Middle East, Cheney will meet with Saudi Arabia's Abdullah, King Abdullah of Jordan, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and United Arab Emirates President Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan during the six-day visit to the region.
Stennis and its strike group entered the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations Feb. 19 to conduct tactical air combat strike operations in both Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and to conduct MSO in regional waters.
MSO help set the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment, as well as complement the counter-terrorism and security efforts of regional nations. These operations seek to prevent international terrorists use of the generate money through such activities as smuggling.
Stennis is the flagship of the John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group (JCSSG). JCSSG includes CVW 9, Destroyer Squadron 21, the guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG 54), guided-missile destroyers USS O'Kane (DDG-77) and USS Preble (DDG 88) and the fast combat-support ship USNS Bridge (T-AOE 10). More than 6,500 Sailors and Marines are assigned to JCSSG.
The CVW-9 squadrons include the "Black Knights" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 154, "Blue Diamonds" of VFA 146, "Argonauts" of VFA 147, "Death Rattlers" of Marine Strike Fighter Squadron 323, "Yellowjackets" of Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 138, "Golden Hawks" of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 112, "Topcats" of Sea Control Squadron 31, "Eightballers" of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 8 and "Providers" of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 30.