U.S. 5TH FLEET AREA OF RESPONSIBILITY
-- Vice Adm. John W. Miller, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S 5th Fleet, Combined Maritime Forces, and his wife Mary Pat visited amphibious dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD 47) to wish Sailors and Marines a Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday Season on Christmas Day, Dec. 25.
“I want to thank you, on behalf of everyone in 5th Fleet and in the U.S., for everything that you are doing out here. It’s not easy being deployed and away from your loved ones during the holidays, but you are all doing something great out here,” said Miller. “I understand how you all feel – most of my holidays and anniversaries were spent at sea. One day, you will look back and remember this specific day being deployed. You will be able to tell stories about Christmas and all the places you went and all the things you did while deployed.”
While aboard, Miller toured various ship spaces, conversed with Sailors on the mess decks and presented coins to a few of the top Sailors and Marines.
“Receiving a coin today from an Adm. felt great, knowing that my hard work has paid off,” said Engineman Fireman Jessica Gantt. “He could be at home with his family, but he chose to come to our ship, it shows that he cares.”
Accompanying Miller was Bishop Neal Buckon, Episcopal Vicar for the Western Half of the United States (Military Archdiocese, USA), and Father (Lt. Cmdr.) Robert Keener, U.S 5th Fleet Staff Chaplain, took the opportunity to hold Catholic Mass and speak with the crew.
“We like to think of every day as a gift,” said Buckon. “On Christmas we remember how God sent his son to an extraordinary place; making this a joy for me to be out here to celebrate the mysteries of our salvation with the brave men and women who are serving our country in this part of the world.”
Miller and his guests also visited guided-missile destroyers USS Decatur (DDG 73) and Paul Hamilton (DDG 60) and amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay (LPD 20), where he and his guests served a Christmas dinner to the crew.
U.S. Fifth Fleet’s mission is to conduct maritime security operations, defeat violent extremism and strengthen partner nations’ maritime capabilities in order to promote security and stability in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.
Rushmore and Green Bay are part of the Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group with embarked 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.