PACIFIC OCEAN – When at sea, Sailors rely on the person next to them without question. When the sun goes down, there is always a Sailor on watch to keep the ship going. Down in the engine room, there is always a Sailor watching the gauges to keep everything working like clockwork. Wherever there is work on a ship, there is always a Sailor standing watch.
At sea there is only the person next to you, beyond that, it’s miles upon miles of salt water.
For the Sailors aboard the Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided-missile frigate USS Vandegrift (FFG 48), the remembrance of every Sailors’ legacy is something not forgotten, even if it’s something that isn’t always in a Sailor’s mind.
“Our diversity is one of our Navy’s greatest strengths,” said Capt. Tom Williams, commanding officer of Vandegrift. “Sailors coming together from diverse backgrounds, but with shared core values and a common focus, help to keep GREAT warships like Vandegrift mission ready and at the ‘tip of the spear’ in defense of our Nation .”
Every month, Vandegrift puts aside time for all onboard to remember their past. Aboard the ship, Vandegrift’s diversity committee presents a monthly commemoration and celebration for the crew to partake in.
“Sailors onboard Vandegrift come from many different backgrounds and ethnicities,” said Cryptologic Technician (Technical) 1st Class Christopher Weatherly. “As part of the diversity committee onboard Vandegrift, we take time to give Sailors the knowledge and help them understand the contributions of others. We take the time to highlight contributions that might not be known by everyone onboard.”
For the Navy, the month of October is the designated for the remembrance of the contributions and sacrifices of those of Hispanic background. Vandegrift’s committee showcased the crew some historic examples, dating back to the civil war as well as present day, on the contributions of those of different backgrounds.
“Working in the Navy we can sometimes forget that each and every Sailor has a different background,” said Yeoman 3rd Class Jonathan Agudelo. “My family comes from Colombia and I am the first person in my family born in America; it’s something I take pride in. Remembering where we came from and the struggles and accomplishments of those who came before us help us come together. Even though we are all from different backgrounds, we are all Sailors, and that’s how we work together.”
Vandegrift, even with being a small crew, has Sailors from all walks of life. The crew has to rely on one another for everything; they depend on one another to live.
“It all comes down to us just being Sailors,” said Weatherly. “We’re one big melting pot out here and we all depend on one another. We’re Sailors first and always.”