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Staten Island Supports Servicemembers During Fleet Week New York

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y., May 30, 2005 – Manhattan may be the hub of Fleet Week, but Staten Island, N.Y., was full of activity as well May 29.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
USS Carr (front) and fellow U.S. Navy ships, USS Porter and USS Carr, as well as ships belonging to Canada, France and Pakistan, jam the former homeport at Staten Island, N.Y., during Fleet Week 2005. Photo by Samantha L. Quigley

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Sailors participating in the "Adopt-a-Sailor" program waited at the former naval homeport on Staten Island for their "adopter" to arrive.

A local firefighter and former sailor adopted a group May 28 and took them to his home for a cookout that included the usual hamburgers, hotdogs and steaks. He had a bit of a surprise planned for the sailors though.

The firefighter invited friends and family to join the festivities and thank the sailors for their service.

"It made me fell prouder to be in the service," Petty Officer 2nd Class Jason Bentley said.

Bentley, assigned to the USS Carr, said that support from the American people has really increased since Sept. 11, 2001. He said he sees it in the number of flags flying and especially in the "Support the Troops" magnets found on many vehicles.

"Thank you for all your support," he said. "It doesn't go unnoticed."

Petty Officer 3rd Class Michael Phillips, assigned to the USS Porter, praised the support the American people are offering servicemembers.

"(Civilian reaction to Fleet Week) has been absolutely fantastic," he said. "I appreciate the kind words. Thank you."

Phillips said this was his first time participating in the Adopt-a-Sailor program.

"I'm not really sure what to expect," he said. "I'm looking forward to see what they have in store for us."

Joan Hartman, the adopter the sailors were waiting for, agreed there is good support for the troops. She has been participating in the Staten Island Adopt-a-Sailor program ever since she retired eight years ago, she said.

"I decided this was something I had time to do," she said. "Most of the time they just want to sit, relax, watch TV and chill out."

She has had requests to go to a shopping mall or to see the island, too. Hartman said those little things can have a strong impact on morale. She added that she doesn't think many people are in favor of war, but it's important for Americans to support their troops.

Hartman said she is baffled by those who seem eager to offer their support by adopting a sailor and then fail to show up as promised. "I don't understand how people can do that to our young people," she said.

As she spirited a handful of sailors away for a relaxing afternoon off the ship, civilians streamed by to tour the ships docked there. The tours allow civilians to query sailors about different aspects of the ships.

Support of the American people is extremely important, members of the Gridley family said as they completed their tour of the USS Cape St. George, which was docked with the USS Porter and the USS Carr, as well as naval ships from Canada, France and Pakistan.

Will Gridley added that his family looks forward to Fleet Week coming to New York every year.

"They're protecting us," Judy Gridley said. "Shake their hands. They deserve it."

Staten Island is certainly showing their support of the troops with America Supports You posters in the ferry terminal. The posters urge Americans to join the team and support the troops.

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