Face of Defense: Sailor Leads Volunteer Efforts
By Navy Lt. Jennifer Cragg
Submarine Group 2 Public Affairs
GROTON, Conn., Jul. 1, 2011 Sailors of the Pre-Commissioned USS Mississippi have amassed 782 volunteer hours, equal to the ship’s hull number, by volunteering throughout the New England area while their ship is under construction.
Sailors assigned to the Virginia-class submarine USS Mississippi being constructed in Groton, Conn., volunteer their off-duty time to assist during one of many community service projects the submarine's command has sponsored throughout New England. Courtesy photo
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Volunteer coordinator Navy Petty Officer 1st Class James Pearson has led the boat’s community service since October 2010.
“When I transferred to PCU Mississippi a couple of other sailors stationed aboard collaborated on a community service program,” Pearson recalled. “After discussing it further with our chief of the boat, the plan was approved, essentially allowing our vision to take shape.”
Pearson said that part of his plan for their command’s community service was to inform the local community about the U.S. Navy, and in particular, PCU Mississippi.
“We wanted our volunteer program to emphasize our interest in Connecticut and our desire to offer our assistance wherever necessary,” he said.
Since October, the sailors aboard PCU Mississippi have assisted with countless projects from cooking for veterans in the local area to educating students about the military at John B. Stanton Elementary School to packing boxes for deployed Connecticut service members.
The command’s community service in the New London area has impacted more than 10,000 people, Pearson said, and also has had a positive impact on the community’s impression of the local military community.
One of their more recent volunteer projects was conducted on June 24, when PCU Mississippi sailors and Electric Boat employees packed more than 400 care packages in their off time for deployed Connecticut sailors.
A PCU Mississippi sailor knows of their generosity firsthand. “When I was deployed, I was truly grateful to receive care packages from Electric Boat,” Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Randy Hall said.
Hall’s positive feedback has served as a catalyst among Electric Boat employees and PCU Mississippi sailors to continue supporting deployed service members from Connecticut.
“He volunteers more than I do and really emphasizes to the command what an impact this program has on troops stationed overseas,” Pearson said of Hall.
To date, PCU Mississippi sailors have assisted in 36 projects throughout the New England area.
“We want all of the branches of the military service to know what they do for our country matters,” Pearson said. “Their service is respected and appreciated, and our effort here in Connecticut to show them is just a small token of our appreciation.”