VLADIVOSTOK, Russia - Sailors from guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen (DDG 82) joined in Victory Day events during a port visit to Vladivostok, May 9.
Victory Day is a major Russian holiday celebrating the end of World War II hostilities in Europe.
Lassen Sailors marched in the Vladivostok Victory Day Parade alongside the Russian military and sailors from a French ship, which was also in Vladivostok on a port visit.
Lt. Cmdr. Steven Dobesh, Helicopter Maritime Strike (HSM) 51, detachment 3 Airboss, who led the Sailors in the parade said, "It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to march in a Russian parade leading a group of American Sailors. It was an Honor."
Additionally, Lassen Sailors joined the Russian veterans and their families in singing and dancing, telling stories and sharing a meal of traditional Russian military food.
"It was very special to see the sacrifices the veterans made, to talk to them about those experiences and realize that we in the military have so much in common," said Navy Chaplain (Lt. Cmdr.) William Stewart. "We just connected immediately, and it was a beautiful experience. One of the best COMRELS (community relations events) I have ever been on."
Interacting and volunteering are valued parts of many Navy port visits.
"Events like these give Sailors a tremendous opportunity to develop meaningful relationships with those of other cultures," said Stewart. "We get to be personal ambassadors for our country."
Lassen is part of Destroyer Squadron 15, forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan, to support security and stability of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.