SAN DIEGO (Jun 24, 2017) Rear Adm. Cathal S. O'Connor, commander, Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 3, presents retired NFL Running Back LaDainian Tomlinson with a Gator Ball 2017 trident during ESG-3's annual Gator Ball. The Gator Ball marks the conclusion of Gator Week. Gator Week serves as an opportunity to come together as a collective amphibious force in an effort to build companionship, honor the Gator Navy's heritage and endorse and encouraging tone of the amphibious force. (U.S. Navy photo by MC2 Jesse Monford/RELEASED)
ESG-3 Wraps Up 3rd Annual Gator Week Gator Ball

SAN DIEGO- (June 27, 2017) –Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 3 concluded its 3rd Annual Gator Week at Admiral Baker Park June 15.

The conclusion of Gator Week signaled another event, the 2017 Gator Ball, which was held at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina. The ball began with a social hour followed by a formal ceremony and catered dinner.

“This was my first time attending one of the Gator Ball events,” said Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Donte Temple, a Sailor from USS Boxer (LHD 4) who attended the ball. “I have to say that I had a blast being around my shipmates, especially with [Boxer] being in the shipyards, this event was perfect for us to blow off some steam.”

This year’s guest speaker was retired San Diego Chargers running back, LaDainian Tomlinson, who gave thanks and showed gratitude to the nation’s service members.

“This is truly an honor to even be surrounded by you guys right now,” retired San Diego Chargers running back, LaDainian Tomlinson. “We talk about team and brotherhood on the football field all the time, but you guys are the most selfless people. You guys are the definition of team and really define what it means to be a family and having one another’s back. No one man or woman could ever do it alone.”

At the ball, USS Boxer was announced as the winning command of the Gator Week competitions.

“Boxer has invested a lot of time in the preparation of Gator Week,” said Capt. Ronald Dowdell, executive officer of USS Boxer. “To be able to compete against all of the talented commands within our strike group, for [Boxer] to come out on top instills a tremendous amount of pride, not only for the ship, but for the crew as well.”

USS Boxer will display the Gator Week trophy for one year, until next year’s Gator Week and Gator Ball, when another ship can challenge the title.

ESG-3 comprises three amphibious squadrons, eight naval support elements and 13 amphibious warships comprised of more than 13,500 active-duty and reserve Sailors and Marines. The mission of ESG-3 is to serve as the command element for Marine expeditionary-brigade level expeditionary operations as commander of an amphibious task force.

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