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ESPN Visits USS Freedom for ‘A Salute to America’s Heroes’

By Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Daniel Lewis, Commander, Littoral Combat Ship Squadron ONE

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SAN DIEGO, Nov. 8, 2017 — ESPN’s show "First Take" was broadcast live from the flight deck of the littoral combat ship USS Freedom, Nov. 6.

Navy Lt. Cmdr. Brett Ringo leads a tour of the littoral combat ship USS Freedom as part of a pre-taped segment for ESPN’s show “First Take,” in San Diego, Nov. 5, 2017. More than 150 sailors, veterans, family members and friends took part in the live broadcast on Nov. 6 of the show’s "A Salute to America's Heroes," in celebration of Veterans Day. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Chad M. Butler
Navy Lt. Cmdr. Brett Ringo leads a tour of the littoral combat ship USS Freedom as part of a pre-taped segment for ESPN’s show “First Take,” in San Diego, Nov. 5, 2017. More than 150 sailors, veterans, family members and friends took part in the live broadcast on Nov. 6 of the show’s "A Salute to America's Heroes," in celebration of Veterans Day. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Chad M. Butler
Navy Lt. Cmdr. Brett Ringo leads a tour of the littoral combat ship USS Freedom as part of a pre-taped segment for ESPN’s show “First Take,” in San Diego, Nov. 5, 2017. More than 150 sailors, veterans, family members and friends took part in the live broadcast on Nov. 6 of the show’s "A Salute to America's Heroes," in celebration of Veterans Day. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Chad M. Butler ESPN Visits USS Freedom for "A Salute to America’s Heroes"
Navy Lt. Cmdr. Brett Ringo leads a tour of the littoral combat ship USS Freedom as part of a pre-taped segment for ESPN’s show “First Take,” in San Diego, Nov. 5, 2017. More than 150 sailors, veterans, family members and friends took part in the live broadcast on Nov. 6 of the show’s "A Salute to America's Heroes," in celebration of Veterans Day. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Chad M. Butler

More than 150 sailors, veterans, families and friends attended the live broadcast of "A Salute to America's Heroes," in celebration of Veterans Day.

“What better a ship to do a Veterans Day show on, than on the USS Freedom,” said Navy Cmdr. Michel Falzone, the ship's commander. “This is great for morale, as a lot of our crew can relate through sports. It’s really the common thread that can bring everyone together.”

Four sailors asked sports-related questions live on air and several other sailors took part in a pre-taped opening for the show.

“There’s a lot of sailors on our ship who are huge sports fans,” said Navy Seaman Samuel Hardin, a damage control fireman and one of the sailors who asked a sports-related question during the live taping. “It’s not every day that you have ESPN on board your ship, and the fact that they are here doing this for Veterans Day on a ship named Freedom, it has a special significance for us.”

Honoring Veterans

The live taping was part of a weeklong celebration by the network in honor of Veterans Day, with additional shows planned for the week leading up to Nov. 10.

"First Take" staff worked with the Navy for several months to select the best location to showcase the Navy's sailors and ships. The show's producers said they chose Freedom because they wanted a location that would be "special" and "stand out" from the other shows ESPN is airing later in the week.

“This is actually our favorite event of the year,” said Brian Bourque, producer for “First Take.” “It’s great to do this for the service members, and all the excitement around the base is just amazing.”

Freedom is the first ship of the Freedom-class littoral combat ships and the third Navy ship to be named for the concept of freedom. Littoral combat ships are designed to be fast, agile, shallow draft and mission-focused, with the ability to operate in littoral waters and the open ocean.