SAN DIEGO – A group of members from the American Motorcycle Association’s Monster Energy Supercross team visited the amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu (LHA 5) at Naval Base San Diego, Feb. 6.
The team was in San Diego as part of the Federation of International Motorcycling Monster Energy Supercross Tour and took time to thank members of the military for their service, especially Peleliu Sailors who recently returned from a six-month deployment.
Upon arrival to Peleliu the team received a general shipboard orientation tour of the ship’s well deck, hangar bay, foc’sle and flight deck.
“Visiting the ship today was quite an experience,” said Trey Canard, a Supercross rider with Honda Motorsports. “It is crazy to see just how big it is inside and how everything is run. I definitely enjoyed the tour but meeting the Sailors was why we were really there. Being able to show our appreciation and thank them for their service was very special.”
The tour ended on the mess decks where Sailors were waiting with their motocross memorabilia and souvenirs ready for autographs and photographs with the team.
“For me and where I’m from, Supercross is more than a sport, it’s a lifestyle,” said Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class Tanner Barnes, from Wickenburg, Arizona. “It’s been a great experience for me to meet the riders. It’s nice that they came out here to show their appreciation for what we do. I think what they are doing really boosts morale for my fellow Sailors and me.”
The team is scheduled to perform at San Diego’s PETCO Park for the Military Appreciation Race, Feb. 7. This race signifies the off-road motorcycle racing series paying tribute to the members of the military, in support of Operation Homefront, a nonprofit organization that provides assistance to service members and their families with a focus on wounded veterans who served on or after 9/11.
“It really means a lot to be able to perform and put on a show for these men and women,” said Canard. “Without them doing what they do, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do. I have a huge respect for all those who serve our country and can’t thank them enough.”
During the Military Appreciation Race, Peleliu’s Sailor of the Year (SOY) Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Jennifer Kurneta and her family will be recognized in front of thousands of spectators.
Kurneta, from Port Washington, Wisconsin, was selected as SOY for her exceptional professionalism, devotion to duty and commendable service as Peleliu Medical Department Leading Petty Officer.
“I am truly honored to be the last SOY aboard Peleliu,” said Kurneta. “I don't think anyone was more surprised than I was regarding my selection because I went up against some really awesome competitors. My selection is due to all the amazing Sailors on board who put in effort to reach our goals. I am thankful to be surrounded by great Sailors, a very supportive chain of command, inspirational mentors, and of course my family, for all of my success is because of them!”
Peleliu is the last ship in the Tarawa class and is undergoing preparation to be decommissioned after nearly 35 years of service in the fleet.