Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Eric Brown, USS Arlington (LPD 24)
NORFOLK, Va. – USS Arlington’s (LPD 24) color guard detail made its first public appearance on March 30, 2013, at a Norfolk Admirals hockey game at the Norfolk Scope Arena.
As hockey players on the ice and more than 6,550 fans stood to pay their respects, the five Sailors paraded the colors of the American, Navy and Marine Corps flags during a rendition of the national anthem.“Arlington’s color guard was awesome, and led off tonight’s game with a very patriotic spirit,” said longtime Admirals fan Mike Pekarsky. “It’s great for the fans to be able to see our military supporting local sporting events, especially since Hampton Roads is home to the largest military community in the world.”
The amphibious transport dock’s two enlisted Marines began holding color guard training in early February, for about an hour every day, in support of the ship’s commissioning ceremony on April 6.
“All their hard work and dedication really paid off,” said Gunnery Sgt. Robert Schrock. “The most challenging part of the training – which included close-order drill, weapons handling and marching – was synchronizing their movements perfectly.”
Personnel Specialist 3rd Class Damario McFrazier, one of the flag bearers for the color guard, described the experience as “humbling, and an honor.”
“We spent a lot of time practicing staying in step, which we were able to do easily for the public,” he added. “We got a huge round of applause when we finished, and that was a good feeling.”
Arlington’s color guard will appear in public again, at a Norfolk Tides baseball game on April 5, and then at the ship’s commissioning ceremony the next day.
The Tides’ “Arlington Night” will begin at 7:15pm, at downtown Norfolk’s Harbor Park. The command will also provide a national anthem singer, and a crew member will throw the game’s first pitch. Hundreds of Sailors, Marines and their families are expected to attend, along with commissioning ceremony VIPs, including 9-11 Pentagon emergency first responders, and members of the Navy League Hampton Roads and USS Arlington (AGMR 2) Association.
Arlington’s commissioning will take place at Naval Station Norfolk’s Pier 14, at 12:30pm on April 6.
The ship is named for Arlington County, Va., home of the Pentagon, in honor of the 184 victims and heroes who lost their lives during the terrorist attack there on 9-11.
Arlington is the eighth in Navy’s San Antonio class of ships, designed to be the most survivable amphibious vessels ever put to sea. The third in the U.S. fleet to bear the name, Arlington will be homeported in Norfolk, Va. The ship combines 21st century amphibious shipbuilding and warfighting technologies to support current and future Marine Corps aircraft and landing craft, and will be capable of taking nearly 1,200 Sailors and Marines into harm’s way.