ABOARD USS BONHAMME RICHARD --
Marines from West Coast–based units boarded the USS Bonhomme Richard by air and sea, Oct. 3, and are bound for San Francisco Fleet Week.
More than 300 Marines boarded the amphibious assault ship and joined the nearly 400 who were already boarded for a previous Marine expeditionary brigade level training exercise. All are spending the two-day voyage gearing up to impress the city and nearby communities of San Francisco.
The ships living areas are crowded with Marines prepping their uniforms to be presentable in front of the eyes that will be on them when they port for the kickoff of Fleet Week, Oct. 5.
“I got my uniforms ready, and I’m ready to go,” said military policeman Cpl. Walter A. Connerly, a 28-year-old with Military Police Company, Combat Logistics Regiment 17. “I’ve never been to Fleet Week before. I don’t know exactly what it’s going to be like, but I’m looking forward to it.”
Fleet Week is a celebration and a tribute to Marines, sailors and Coast Guardsmen and will feature air shows, ship tours, athletic events and band concerts. With the event just days away, Marines are also planning where to go and what to do during their premier event: liberty.
“I’ve got some family in that part of town,” said Cpl. Brian W. Hughes, a 26-year-old MV-22 Osprey crew chief from Grass Valley, Calif., with Marine Medium Tilt Rotor 161. “It will be nice to be in uniform in San Francisco. I had a lot of uniforms to iron, press and put medals on.”
USS Bonhomme Richard is moving up the California coast carrying some of the Marine Corps’ tactical vehicles, aircraft and equipment to include amphibious assault vehicles, light armored vehicles, armored Humvees, an MV-22 Osprey, two CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters, a UH-1Y Venom utility helicopter, and an AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopter. The equipment aboard will be used during Fleet Week for static displays, air shows and tours to showcase the Marines’ amphibious nature, combat readiness and ability to respond to crises for humanitarian assistance.
Many of the Marines aboard USS Bonhomme Richard have never been to Fleet Week. One Marine remembers past Fleet Weeks he attended as a civilian and is excited to finally go as a Marine.
“I grew up in Northern California, and I used to go to Fleet Week in San Francisco when I was a kid all the time,” said Cpl. Keith D. Lujan, an Osprey crew chief with VMM-161. “It’s important to me to be there again.
“I actually made the newspaper one time I was there,” continued Lujan, a 21-year-old from Santa Rosa, Calif. “I was holding an American flag up in the air and staring up as the ship was coming under the bridge in the background. Here I am so many years later, and I’m actually going to be the one riding the ship under the Golden Gate Bridge.”