PORTLAND, OR—The Aegis Guided Missile Cruiser USS LAKE CHAMPLAIN (CG 57) arrived in Portland, Oregon on Thursday, June 5th to participate in the city’s annual Festival of Roses. After a scenic transit up the Columbia River, LAKE CHAMPLAIN arrived in Portland marking the US Navy’s return to the Rose Festival after a year of absence.
Since the beginning of the Portland Rose Festival in 1907, the US Navy has been one of the premier attractions of the event, and this year was no different. USS LAKE CHAMPLAIN opened its decks for tours to nearly 3000 visitors over a two and half day period. “The people were very curious about the ship, and they just love it when we come in,” said SH2 Ronald Dukes of Little Rock, Arkansas.
The city of Portland offered many sites and attractions for LAKE CHAMPLAIN’s Sailors. “I met a lot of people who really appreciate us,” said SH3 Dreshawn Winn of Jacksonville, Florida. “Everybody I ran into thanked us for doing what we do, and I just let them know that we enjoy working hard for them.” Many Sailors enjoyed the excellent and lively restaurants downtown, “There is a lot of variety, friendly people, great service, and good prices,” said STG1 Joseph Gerischer of Spring, Texas.
Some Sailors participated in community service events a visit to an area VA Hospital, while another group visited two local Children’s hospitals. The following day a group of Sailors helped paint a downtown homeless shelter. LAKE CHAMPLAIN’s Chaplain, LT Michael Kennedy a Huntsville, Alabama native, organized the events, “We’re doing good stuff for the community, our Sailors are getting out and helping with their time and the community is seeing that the Navy does something good for them,” said Chaplain Kennedy. “We fight wars and protect people that need protecting, but we also have a lot of resources that help people and make their lives better.”
On Saturday, Sailors were given the opportunity to march in the Rose Festival Parade. “I had a lot of fun marching in the parade, I had never been in a parade before,” said FC2 Joe Swartz of Fredrick, Maryland. “I think it promoted the correct image of the Navy which is we’re a bunch of good guys doing hard work.”
Overall, the Portland Rose Festival was a fantastic opportunity for the crew of LAKE CHAMPLAIN to showcase their ship and the pride and professionalism of the US Navy.
Later this month, the officers and crew of USS LAKE CHAMPLAIN will train with their allies from around the Pacific when they sail to Hawaii to participate in the Rim of the Pacific exercise.