Photo Information

Army Sgt. Brandon B. Vilt, a former helicopter crew chief visiting with the wounded warriors, stands outside an AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter while visiting Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force 26 Marines and USS New York sailors on a tour Nov. 05, 2009. SPMAGTF-26 was formed by North Carolina Marines from several units to support the commissioning of USS New York Nov. 07.

Photo by Lance Corporal Brian M. Woodruff

Warriors pay special visit to USS New York

8 Nov 2009 | Lance Cpl. Brian M. Woodruff 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit

Today’s service members join knowing they may put their lives in jeopardy.  While deployed, they display courage and bravery in the face of dangers many civilians may not understand.

            Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force 26 Marines and USS New York sailors got a chance to meet service members who truly understand what bravery means when a group of wounded warriors toured USS New York Thursday.

            Marines and sailors welcomed the visitors at the entrance to the pier and escorted them onto the ship. Men and women both in and out of uniform were excited to see all the parts of the ship, which has 7 1/2 tons of steel recovered from the world trade center forged into its bow. Former medic and Army Cpl. Julio Gerena said as a New York native, he’s extremely proud of the ship.

            “The ship is beautiful,” he said. “I remember the old ships, but this is a huge difference. I felt a sense of pride when I saw that New York logo. I knew that some steel from the world trade center was in the ship, but I wanted to see it for myself.”

            Inside the ship, the warriors spent time checking out vehicle displays like the M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tank, the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle and the M23 7-Ton Truck. Although some of the wounded warriors were still enduring rehabilitation for injuries, their enthusiasm pushed them to move swiftly up the steep ramp to the second deck, where they were shown weapons like the M-4 carbine, the M-203 grenade launcher, and the Javelin shoulder-fired anti-tank missile.

            Even though many had prior knowledge of the weapons systems, the service members said they still were thrilled with the experience. Army Sgt. Brandon B. Vilt said after two years in rehab, he’s glad to be able to re-experience the military in a real way.

            “Being out on this ship is just awesome, they have a ton of stuff going on in here it’s just amazing,” he said.

            The warriors moved up to the flight deck, where aircraft including the CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter, V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft and UH-1N Huey helicopter were on display. While the warriors were out on the flight deck, marveling at the size of the ship, Marines and sailors looked on and smiled.

            “It’s great to meet the people who have led the way for the junior service members,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Michael V. Knorr, an aviation support equipment technician aboard USS New York. “I feel honored by the sacrifices they’ve made for our country and our freedoms.”

            Marines and sailors waved goodbye as the wounded warriors reluctantly left, the active duty servicemembers unable to put in words the example the wounded warriors had just set: that although we may all fear danger, courage is the ability to face our fears and push forward.