NEW YORK --
Marines, Sailors, veterans and community leaders gathered at Gracie Mansion May 26, to break bread with the city's mayor.
The New York City mayor, the Honorable Michael Bloomberg, hosted an event to welcome the service members and kick off Fleet Week New York 2011.
"On behalf of the city of New York it is now my distinct honor to welcome you all to our 24th annual Fleet Week, a week every New Yorker looks forward to," Bloomberg said. "It is wonderful to have a chance to celebrate and say thank you for the extrodinary work of our sea services, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard, lets have a round of applause."
The Secretary of The Navy, the Honorable Ray Mabus, also spoke during the event commenting on the vast capabilities of the Navy and Marine Corps, and the symbolic connection between the USS New York (LPD-21) and the city of New York.
"The last time the mayor and I gathered was for the commissioning of the New York, and the seven and a half tons of steel from the World Trade Center that went into that ship, that for the next four years, as that ship sails the seas of the world it would represent the people of New York, the spirit of New York," Mabus said. "I want to very quickly talk about your Navy and Marine Corps and do it in the sense of one day.
"On March 19, let me tell you what the Sailors and Marines were doing. The USS Reagan Strike Group was off the cost of Japan delivering Medicare assistance and disaster relief ... that same day the Essex Amphibious Ready Group, which had been off the coast of Indonesia doing exercises, was also in northern Japan helping the people of Japan. That same day, Marine helicopters from Okinawa had flown into the danger zone around atomic reactors. That same day, certain ships and submarines launched Tomahawk missiles to begin the implementation of the no-fly-zone over Libya."
The SECNAVs' speech went on to highlight other Navy and Marine Corps operations such as the 20,000 Marines fighting in Afghanistan and the success of Navy Seal Team 6.
"It was pretty motivating," said Sgt. Michael Ayers, airframe mechanic Marine Attack Squadron 223. "All the stuff the Marine Corps does in just one day, it's motivating to know what we do."
Various units from II Marine Expeditionary Force and Marines Forces Reserve have organized under the 24th MEU to form the Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force - New York. The Marines embarked on the Navy’s Amphibious Assault Ships, the USS Iwo Jima (LHD -7) and USS New York (LPD-21) to take part in Fleet Week New York 2011 from May 25 to June 1, 2011. The Marines will showcase the capabilities of the MAGTF, and also honor those who have served by participating in various events during the Memorial Day weekend.