The USS Lake Erie sits along the dock, a massive American Flag hanging from her mast. For the next week, the ship will be prepared for deployment. Munitions will be loaded and sailors will prepare themselves to spend the next four months at sea, which includes another test and ports of call in Australia, the Philippines, Hong Kong and Japan. The men and women on this cruiser are excited to get to sea and still hopping with pride for their successful launch, from the guy who pushed the button all the way down to those assigned to mess duty — those who never saw the launch, but only felt the massive ship shutter twice within five seconds.
On the dock, the crew starts quickly dashes up and down the gangplank. Plastic bags of laundry are carried by all and some hurry to get their chores done so they can get some final quality time with their families. One after another, many faces we have not met, the sailors say hello. So many are thankful we decided to come along for the ride. Not that they had the chance to see even one of our reports, but because I think many of them are genuinely happy a few members of the general public get the chance to live their life if only for a few short days. Despite the fact they are not sitting in a desert, these men and women do give up their lives while at sea. They live in bunks (racks) the size of sardine cans and as hard as the wood floor in your kitchen. Closet space … non-existent. They sacrifice and do so with such joy. It was an honor for us to be invited into their lives, into their ship, and we will always remember our time on the Erie. From the Captain, to the Command Master Chief, to Getz to the guys in charge of taking all the amazing photos of the launch, the cast of characters on board is a slice of America. All ages, races and backgrounds.
I slept close to the deck and my first night away was interesting. No chains dragging on the floor, which was actually my ceiling. I was in the top bunk and the ceiling was about four inches from my face. The climb into the bunk itself resulting in several near death experiences. I continue to debate our technician for this trip Pat Muskopf, he insists the bottom bunk is the worst because it is literally on the floor and getting in is like crawling under your kitchen sink … nearly impossible if you are over the age of 30, and we are.
For the crew, it was a bit sad when we made the final walk off of the ship. We got a quick interview with Cedric Thomas, and as expected he challenged O'Reilly to a debate. The Captain and Command Master Chief and so many others walked down to give a handshake and wave goodbye. Funny thing is that all of us now truly believe in “sea legs.” Whether in our hotel rooms, in a restaurant, walking down the street, even standing in the shower, the land seems to roll. For five days we lived on a ship that rolled back and forth and while the motion gave us little problem on the water, the lack of it has caused us to even lose our balance at times. Maybe I should buy a waterbed.
Now, here are a few responses to your e-mails, and wow, we got a lot and many came from moms and dads! I can say that while only a few made the blog, we had the fortunate opportunity to meet and say hello to many. I walk away from this experience with an incredible respect for these sailors and while those involved with the test and aegis system get the glory; it's those in the depths of the ship who are the backbone that makes everything work. From the laundry to the cook, they too are heroes. Oh yeah, ”Don't give up the ship.”
LETTER # 1
I am the spouse of one of the sailors on board the great Warship USS LAKE ERIE — my husband is NCC (SW) Johannes G. I would like to say that I am enjoying the articles you have been writing in regards to Virtual Battlefield, and I look forward to the ones that will follow. They keep a spouse like me close to my husband who cannot be here because he is contributing to the people's freedom of the United States of America. My children and I lose a lot of time that we would like to spend with him because he is away at sea (whether it's for training or deployments). It is sad and hard because he misses out on A LOT, but we are PROUD because we know he is out there defending our other Americans, and even non-Americans, who live in the United States of America. When it comes to our Command Master Chief, you have truly hit the nail on the head. It is Master Chief's like him who hold our Navy and Sailors to the highest standards, and it is Master Chief's with those standards that make our Navy and Sailors great. Thank you for taking the time to report your time on the ship and to let those of us know what goes on since we cannot experience it and will never truly know. Have a great Navy day!
ADAM: Christina, I tried my best to give a slice of life and would love to write a more in depth story about life on a cruiser. I can tell you there is a lot on camaraderie and an incredible amount of patriotism! It makes me proud to see these men and women at work!
LETTER # 2
My son is stationed on board the Erie. His name is Christopher A. and he a Bosun Mate 3rd Class. If the occasion arises and you run into him, please say hi to him from his father and mention how proud we are of him and his role in this historic test. Thanks, Russ
ADAM: Russ, I may have met him, but not sure because we met so many and shook a ton of hands, It's tough to try and remember 350 names in 5 days! Your pride in your son is shared by many in this great nation. We received a ton of e-mails from parents, friends, spouses, grandparents and other veterans. They are all proud too.
No questions for you. Just wanted to thank you for the story from the Lake Erie. My son, FC2 Andrew Jackson, is stationed on the Lake Erie. I am very proud of him and the job he does for our country. It was nice to get a quick look at him from your report, since the ship will be deploying very soon. If you see Andrew again, please let him know his mom, sisters and the rest of the family love him, miss him and support him. Thanks again, Fonda
ADAM: Fonda, your letter tugs at our hearts. So many letters express the same gratitude and even though we only spent five days with these sailors, we will miss them also. They are in my thoughts and prayers as are all our soldiers serving our country.
Thanks so much for covering this event on the USS Lake Erie. Those of us that know how important a strong defense system is appreciate it. It's also cool because you're on my son's ship. If you happen to meet LTJG Michael W. in the officer's wardroom, tell him his dad says hi and that he is sure proud of him and the US Navy! Thanks also to you and FOX news for bringing us the stories that the rest of the media won't bother with. A loyal FOX FAN, Joe
ADAM: Joe, I also heard the same from a father named Jim Dewitt. We are fortunate to work for a company that allows us to tell stories whatever they may be. What you read and saw on our air was exactly what we experienced.
Adam Housley joined FOX News Channel in 2001 as a Los Angeles-based correspondent. Most recently, Housley reported from President Ford's funeral. He also reported from Nicaragua and El Salvador on the war against drugs and scored an exclusive interview with Sandinista leader, Daniel Ortega. You can read his full bio here.
Adam Housley joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in 2001 and currently serves as a Los Angeles-based senior correspondent.