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By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Porsha Thompson
Sailors assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Truxtun (DDG 103) visited the Emergency Coordination Center in Le Muy, France, for a community relations (COMREL) event, Nov. 29, 2022.
The COMREL started with a tour of the Emergency Coordination Center, followed by a breakfast between Sailors, the first responders, and staff of the center. After breakfast, each Sailor donned a harness and participated in a ladder climbing exercise on the center’s fire engine.
“It was a bit scary but super exciting,” said Seaman Apprentice Phuong Nguyen. “When we got to the top, we could see the whole city and the mountains.”
The 24-meter high ladder afforded Sailors a view of the mountains surrounding the city of Var, and an opportunity to bond with the first responders. The Sailors and firefighters posed for photos and took selfies to capture the experience.
The highlight of the COMREL, however, was an exhibition soccer match between Sailors from Truxtun and local firefighters at the Stade de la Peyroua soccer field in Le Muy.
Upon arrival at the field, the firefighter’s team was in their matching uniforms, expertly passing the ball amongst themselves during warm ups.
“We were a little intimidated,” said Lt. j.g. Christopher Koenigsknecht before the game. “They looked like they practice a lot, and we really hadn’t had the time. But we went out there, played hard, and had fun.”
The match was a competition of true sportsmanship and camaraderie. Truxtun Sailors gave the firefighters a run for their money, maintaining a strong defense and ensuring each Sailor gave it their all. In the end though, Truxtun lost the match 7-0.
“It was a really fun game and there was fair play,” said Thevelin Thibaut, procurement officer for the Emergency Coordination Center. “We look forward to the opportunity to do it again, but next time in the U.S.!”
At the conclusion of the game, Sailors and Emergency Coordination Center staff shared a barbecue, and the director of the center gifted Lt. j.g. Christopher Koenigsknecht, training officer aboard Truxtun, a flag featuring the center’s mascot - a dragon.
Breaking through the language barrier at the table, the Sailors and the firefighters got to know each other even more.
“I am happy to translate, but they are getting along just fine,” said Aurelie Delaissez, public affairs representative for U.S. Consul General, Place Varian Fry, Marseille. “It is easy to communicate during a meal. Food is a universal language.”
Three Truxtun Sailors, Machinist’s Mate Seaman Adrian Perez, Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Amalia Mendes, and Culinary Specialist Seaman Nikolas Chatman, had the French soccer players sign their cleats and a Truxtun ball cap – now tangible memories of an unforgettable day.
“I will never forget this experience,” said Chatman. “These are the days that make deployment fun and worthwhile.”
Truxtun is on a scheduled deployment in the U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa area of operations, employed by U.S. Sixth Fleet to defend U.S., allied, and partner interests.
The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) is the flagship of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 10. CSG-10 is comprised of George H.W. Bush, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 26, the Information Warfare Commander, and the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55).
The ships of DESRON 26 within CSG-10 are the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Nitze (DDG 94), USS Farragut (DDG 99), Truxtun, and USS Delbert D. Black (DDG 119).
The squadrons of CVW-7 embarked aboard the George H.W. Bush are the “Sidewinders” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 86, the “Jolly Rogers” of VFA-103, the “Nighthawks” of VFA-136, the “Pukin Dogs” of VFA-143, the “Bluetails” of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 121, the “Patriots” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 140, the “Nightdippers” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 5, and the “Grandmasters” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 46.
For over 80 years, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-U.S. Naval Forces Africa (NAVEUR-NAVAF) has forged strategic relationships with allies and partners, leveraging a foundation of shared values to preserve security and stability.
Headquartered in Naples, Italy, NAVEUR-NAVAF operates U.S. naval forces in the U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) and U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM) areas of responsibility. U.S. Sixth Fleet is permanently assigned to NAVEUR-NAVAF, and employs maritime forces through the full spectrum of joint and naval operations.