LOS ANGELES (NNS) -- Sailors and Marines from amphibious transport dock ship USS Anchorage (LPD 23) and guided-missile destroyer USS Spruance (DDG 111) gathered together to help restore a legacy of U.S. Naval history, Aug. 7.
The service members assembled on the deck-plates of the former battleship USS Iowa (BB 61) to help in restoring the ship that has become a museum.
David Canfield, vice president of security and technology for Iowa, says this community relations (COMREL) means more than Sailors moving items from one part of the ship to the next or paintimg a bulkhead.
"One of the reasons that we are here is to pass that torch to the next generation," said Canfield, who served on the Iowa from 1987-89 as a non-rated Fireman. "For me personally as an Iowa veteran, a chief petty officer and as a member of the executive team on the ship, it meets all of our goals. We're passing that baton to the next generation. You're teaching them what it was to serve before, allowing them to serve now, and really admiring them for their service that they're doing for the future. It really connects the past with the future."
Sailors had a chance to experience the interior of Iowa that is usually closed off to the public, working in the same type of areas that they work in on the modern day naval ships.
"It feels amazing working on board here," said Boatswain's Mate 2nd Class Cleston Williams from Spruance. "Because this ship here paved the way for the ships that I'm on today, like the USS Spruance. This is where it all started, all the blood, sweat and tears. It's an honor and privilege being able to do this."
Iowa was first commissioned on Feb. 22, 1943, and was decommissioned on three separate occasions. For some of the service members, the COMREL had an added bonus of sharing a rich history.
"I'm a big World War II fan," said Marine Cpl. Devin Hahn, from the 7th Engineer Support Battalion detached to the Anchorage. "And me being able to come on board the Iowa and work on it is like working on a piece of history."
The current generation of the military was given the chance to work side-by-side with veterans that once served aboard the Iowa. Intelligence Technician 1st Class Maria Edwards said it was a very rewarding experience to be able to work with a former crewmember of Iowa.
"I thought it was awesome working with an actual veteran from Iowa," said Edwards. "He showed us where he worked, and he told us about how it was like back then. I think that one day, when I'm retired, I would like to work with one of the ship's I've been on."
Canfield, who served in the Navy for 21 years and went from being on Iowa as a non-rated Fireman to retiring as a chief petty officer, says the experience shared on Iowa is extremely important.
"Look around and understand that what we did in the eighties, and what the previous crew did in the forties and fifties, and what they're doing today - it's all connected," said Canfield. "We are all members of the same profession. All of us have chosen to wear the cloth of this country. And when you look back, it's like you were part of a long tradition, there are deep roots in the Navy."
Canfield added, "I would encourage them to look around the ship, to drink in the history. Understand that there were three generations that served here, and you guys are part of the next generation that is serving now."
Anchorage was built at the Huntington Ingalls Shipbuilding site in Avondale, Louisiana and is the seventh San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship. Delivered to the U.S. Navy on Sept. 17, 2012, the ship was commissioned on May 4, 2013 in the namesake city of Anchorage, Alaska.