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Politicians land on aircraft carrier
Elected officials from Island County were among hundreds of visitors last month on a special tour of the USS Abraham Lincoln, a storied aircraft carrier that transports aircrews from Whidbey Island Naval Air Station and many others to hot spots around the globe.
Island County Commissioner Angie Homola brought along sophomore Jami Zuber, a member of JROTC at Oak Harbor High School. Her father had served on the boat, which gave the visit extra meaning.
“This bright, cheerful and eager young lady was a delight to share company with,” Homola said.
Island County Commissioner John Dean and his wife Julie also toured the aircraft carrier, as did Oak Harbor City Council members Beth Munns, Rick Almberg and Jim Palmer.
Homola and Zuber got to explore the 1,092-foot ship with their guide, Kathleen Schofield with Whidbey Island Naval Air Station. They investigated the control tower, the command center, the anchor room, female berthing, the galleys, the hanger deck, medical, ships store and many places in between.
Homola said she was amazed that 5,000 people can live on the ship for months at a time.
“The sheer logistics are mind boggling,” she said. “It truly is a city at sea.”
The highlight, Homola said, was the air show on deck, with spectators just yards away. Pilots of EA-6B Prowlers from Whidbey thrilled them with touch-and- goes, so close they were standing in the dust clouds and vibration waves.
They also got to see a submarine cruise by on the starboard side.
At a commissioners’ meeting, Dean spoke about how incredibly polite the crew was. He said he would get lost exploring the ship and they helped him find his way back.
“It was an honor to spend the day experiencing one small part of what our military men and women do every day for our safety,” Homola said.
The USS Abraham Lincoln is a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier. It was involved in the opening salvos and air strike of Operation Iraqi Freedom. During the deployment, more than 16,500 sorties were flown, according to the Lincoln Web site and the Navy Web site. After a record-breaking deployment, former President George Bush famously gave a speech on aircraft carrier, in front of the banner that said, “Mission Accomplished.”