RED SEA -
'Oh say can you see, by the dawn's early light...' rang over the speakers as crew members stood at attention on the forecastle while the Sailors and Marines of amphibious transport dock ship USS San Diego's (LPD 22) choir sang the national anthem. It was the Navy's 239th birthday celebration, Oct. 13.
After the national anthem and the invocation were delivered, the crew stood at ease as Boatswain's Mate 1st Class Kalis Fells introduced the guest speaker for the ceremony, Chief Electronics Technician Marc Sessions, the oldest Sailor aboard.
"It was an honor to speak and give some wisdom to the younger generations and be a part of this important remembrance," said Sessions.
"It was my first time speaking to such a large group but it was nice to see both younger and older Sailors in the crowd."
The ceremony continued with the San Diego choir's rendition of "Anchors Aweigh" followed by Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Gregory Deshields and Engineman 3rd Class Marygold Tarrosa reciting a reflective poem.
Nearing the completion of the ceremony, Capt. John Menoni, commanding officer of San Diego, gave closing remarks.
"This is a day where we reflect on where we have been, where we are and where we are going as a Navy," said Menoni. "The Navy is a family and I am proud to be part of that family and gladly serve side by side with all of you."
The ceremony then concluded with a cake cutting of the Navy's birthday cake by the oldest Sailor, Sessions, and the youngest Sailor, Culinary Specialist Seaman De'Metrice Knowles.
"It was an amazing experience to be part of something bigger than myself," said Fells. "It was awesome to see both Sailors and Marines reflecting on the sacrifices that were made for us to be here."
San Diego is a part of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group, and with the embarked 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.