Operations Specialist 3rd Class Isaiah and fellow crewmembers on dock landing ship Oak Hill man the rails as the ship pulls into New York City May 21 for Fleet Week. (Lance M. Bacon / Staff)
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ABOARD THE DOCK LANDING SHIP OAK HILL — More than 1,500 sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen aboard three Navy ships and two Coast Guard cutters pulled into New York Harbor Wednesday morning for the Fleet Week. It was a welcome return to the Big Apple, even if it was also the smallest armada in at least a decade.
The dock landing ship Oak Hill served as flagship for the parade and was joined by destroyers Cole and McFaul, and cutters Campbell and Katherine Walker, which rendered honors at historic Fort Hamilton. The destroyers turned toward Staten Island and Oak Hill pressed past the Statue of Liberty toward Manhattan’s Pier 92. The crew rendered honors as they passed One World Trade Center.
While New York City will be the first port call for many young sailors and Marines, it is an exciting homecoming for a few natives. They served as impromptu tour planners and encouraged their shipmates to catch a Broadway show or ballgame; to tour Times Square, Ground Zero and Lady Liberty — and make sure to taste the cuisine. But on that point, the New York brotherhood was broken.
Logistics Specialist 1st Class Anthony Costa, a third-generation New Yorker, said he is looking forward to a good bagel. Ensign Carley Tadlock, Oak Hill’s machinery division officer, said the main thing is to find a New York deli where you can get a “real chicken cutlet sandwich.” And Lance Cpl. Miguel Rivera, a member of Headquarters Battalion in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, said nothing trumps a slice of New York-style pizza.
This is Rivera’s first time home since joining the Corps a little more than one year ago. “I left one way, and I’m coming back even better,” he said. “I’m feeling like a king.”
Tadlock, a Long Island native, wanted to join the Navy since second grade and was “in awe” when she saw Fleet Week in years past. Now her dreams are fulfilled, and she is coming home as a surface warfare officer.
“It is a little overwhelming,” she said. “When I get there and I am on the pier, I will finally be able to bring my family into my dream.”
Culinary Specialist 3rd Class (SW) Diana Pollydore said she plans to walk through Brooklyn between family visits to encourage teenagers to join the Navy. The Guyana native came to the United States when she was 18, completed her first two years of college then joined the Navy almost three years ago.
“I felt like I needed to give back to the country and the people that have given me so many opportunities,” she said. “I am so honored to go back home in uniform.”