On board the USS New York: a talk with marines

Posted on 08. Dec, 2009 by in Uncategorized

By Almudena Toral

Dozens of marines showed off the USS New York, the newest ship in the navy’s fleet, last November. They also talked about their careers and their daily lives.

The ship was built with 7.5 tons of steel from the World Trade Center. It was moored in Midtown Manhattan from Nov. 2 to Nov. 12  and open to the public. On the last day it left New York City to pass certifications, Public Affairs Officer Bryce Piper said.

Marines on board enjoyed showing off the 684-feet-long ship with new features like more space and speed. Others pointed out the the gadgets, the machine guns, the instruments of war.

Marine Paul Acevedo was one of those excited about his tank. “She is a gorgeous beast of equipment. This is my vehicle, this is my pride and my joy,” the tank commander said. He is living out his dream, he said with a smile.

Deployed three times –twice to Iraq– and part of the marines for 12 years, Acevedo said it’s hard to be away from his family. “My oldest son, I’ve been away from him a total of two years,” he said. Acevedo said he takes precautions so he can return to see his kids again. “If someone is going to hurt me I’d rather hurt them so I come back home.”

Missing families, spouses and children is a constant in the marines’ lives. Some of the marines remembered out loud how it was like to be on mission when they were sending and receiving letters on paper. Now, at least, new technologies and the presence of Internet all over the world make it easier for deployed marines to keep in touch with their loved ones, Piper said.

Despite their tough lives, a marine’s career and its benefits are still very attractive to many men on board of the USS New York. Rich Scozzafava, 35, joined the marines 17 years ago mainly for health benefits. But he said he’s gottten to love it so much, he will never get tired of explaining what the Marines world is all about.

“It’s a sense of pride for me to tell people what I do,” he said while pointing at equipment he repairs.

Acevedo and Scozzafava said civilians on the ship were thankful for the Marines. “Kids are very appreciative and respectful here,” Scozzafava said.

“Generally I’ve had more thank yous than people shouting,” Acevedo said. He explained that people both in the U.S. and Iraq appreciate their work and support them. “Iraqis understand we’re doing our jobs, and we’re there to protect them as much as we’re there to protect ourselves,” he said.

This is Scozzava’s first public event in New York City. This is many marines’ on board first public event.

Piper has trained the marines for this open-door event through several talks and speeches. He instructed them not to say anything inappropriate in front of the public, either about the Marines or about 9/11.

“We told them, ‘Hey you’re gonna meet people that lost their loved ones in 9/11.’” Be sensitive, he told them, don’t ask if they’ve sought psychological help. “Just be yourself. Be your own version of yourself.”

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