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MCPON Visits Sailors and Celebrates Armed Forces Day
WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON)(SS/SW) Rick D. West traveled to San Diego and Chattanooga, Tenn., to visit Sailors and celebrate Armed Forces Day May 3-8.

In San Diego, West delivered opening remarks at the Divers Working Group at the Adm. Kidd Club Conference Center and then took a familiarization dive under the USS Midway museum with divers from Southwest Regional Maintenance Center (SWRMC).

"As a submariner, I've operated many years underwater and this dive took it to another level," said West. "I have the utmost respect for those that conduct their business underneath the water. The opportunity to work with our Navy divers provided me a snapshot of what they do. What a demanding and great job, which you can tell they love. HOOYAH!"

During his visit, West toured the guided-missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102) and the amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay (LPD 20).

"It's important for me to get out and see what jobs our Sailors are doing," said West. "I enjoy it, and they enjoy showing me. It keeps me close to the fleet and the Sailors I love."

In Chattanooga, West was invited to the 61st Armed Forces Day Parade to be the Grand Marshal and Reviewing Officer. Chattanooga is one of the few cities that still hold an Armed Forces Day parade. Each year the parade highlights a branch of service and this year the focus was on the Navy.

Chief Yeoman Diana Fleshman marched along with Sailors from Navy Operational Support Center (NOSC) Chattanooga. Fleshman is a kindergarten teacher at North Hamilton Elementary School and her students and parents were out to show their support and cheer her and the Armed Forces at the parade.

"I marched two years ago, and last year I was deployed," said Fleshman. "This year I felt it was really important for me to be out here again. We had 25 marchers out today from the NOSC and it was a great honor for MCPON to be here with us."

During his speech after the parade, West highlighted a few Sailors from Chattanooga including commanders, command master chiefs and hospital corpsmen who he knew were from the area. He also spoke of how proud he is of also being from the area and credits much of his success in the Navy to his upbringing there.

Operations Specialist 1st Class Arcenia Pierre, from NOSC Chattanooga, was chosen by the Women Veterans Network to represent all women veterans and sit on the reviewing stand for the parade and attend the Chattanooga Area Veterans Council luncheon, where West was the keynote speaker.

"In my 11 years in the Navy I never imagined I would meet the MCPON," Pierre said. "It was truly an awesome experience."

West finished his visit by attending the USS Haddo Base Submarine Veterans Group monthly meeting. During the meeting, he talked with World War II submariners and also met with Sea Cadets from Chattanooga and Sailors from USS Tennessee who were special guests to the meeting.

"It's always a great week when you can see fleet Sailors in action, interact with the local community and have a fireside chat with our veterans - all of that, and a paycheck too," said West.
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