By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Scott Barnes
The crew of the 6th Fleet Blue Ridge-class command and control ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20) celebrated the U.S. Navy’s 244th birthday in Gaeta, Italy, Oct. 11, 2019.
The annual event celebrates the establishment of the Navy on Oct. 13, 1775, when the Second Continental Congress passed a resolution creating the Continental Navy.
“We genuinely enjoy celebrating the birthday of a naval force that has played a prominent role in world history, particularly in the last century,” said Capt. Cassidy Norman, Mount Whitney’s commanding officer.
This year’s theme for the Navy’s birthday is “No Higher Honor,” which comes from a quote by Lt. Cmdr. Robert Copeland, commanding officer of WWII destroyer USS Samuel B. Roberts (DE 413). Samuel B. Roberts was sunk by Japanese forces during the Battle off Samar on Oct. 25, 1944.
Copeland concluded his report of the Battle off Samar with the words, "In the face of this knowledge, the men zealously manned their stations wherever they might be, and fought and worked with such calmness, courage, and efficiency that no higher honor could be conceived than to command such a group of men."
The day kicked off with Retail Services Specialist 3rd Class Kelsey Farrell announcing over the 1MC, “Good morning, Mount Whitney crew; today we celebrate our Navy’s 244th birthday!”
During the day, Sailors and civil service mariners aboard Mount Whitney celebrated the birthday by watching Navy inspired movies, attending a cake cutting ceremony, and partaking in a special lunch provided by the Military Sealift Command’s supply department.
The youngest Sailor, Operations Specialist Seaman Evan Rodriguez, and the oldest, Command Master Chief Jeffrey West, cut the cake and presented the first piece to the guest of Honor, Capt. Cassidy Norman.
“It felt good to be able to cut the cake,” said Rodriguez. “I am honored to be able to carry on such a tradition.”
“What a great celebration of a great Navy,” said Norman.
Mount Whitney, forward deployed to Gaeta, Italy operates with a combined crew of U.S. Sailors and Military Sealift Command civil service mariners in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe and Africa.