INDIAN OCEAN – Vice President Mike Pence called the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz, Dec. 25.
Pence called Nimitz to provide the nearly 5,000 Sailors and Marines aboard with encouragement during a long deployment and wish them happy holidays.
“As a strike group, you have done a wonderful job by all accounts, of maintaining combat capabilities,” said Pence. “It has been a trying time, but you have executed your mission flawlessly. Your team has stepped up in the best traditions of the United States Navy. I want to congratulate you for doing that.”
Before Pence addressed the ship, he spoke with Nimitz CSG leadership and the Sailors of the year from Nimitz and CVW 17. Pence acknowledged the special contributions of Chief Hull Technician (Select) Curtis Eicher, assigned to Nimitz, and Aviation Machinist’s Mate 1st Class David Shadwick, assigned to CVW 17, and the contributions of their families at home.
“I hope that the vice president’s call put some motivation in the crew during these times of uncertainty, like it did for myself,” said Eicher. “Being away from family during the holidays is a rough thing no matter how you look at it. Not only is it a rare occurrence, but an honor to hear the country's second most powerful person take the time to address the crew. Reassuring the importance of why we are here, to protect and serve not only our families at home, but all of our brothers and sister in arms deployed as well.”
Pence then addressed the Sailors and Marines aboard Nimitz over the ship’s public address system and remarked about the resiliency and strength of the Nimitz crew and their families.
“Merry Christmas to each and every one of you, and thank you for your extraordinary service to the United States of America,” said Pence. “We could not be more proud or thankful for the work of USS Nimitz and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 17.”
“We have all been following your extraordinary deployment even before it actually began,” Pence continued. “You did a tremendous job completing a work up during a global pandemic. Then, you got out to see with a healthy and fully mission-capable crew. That was a testament to your leadership, each of you individually and especially your families. It was a very unusual departure with having to quarantine, but you did it and got out to sea.”
Nimitz CSG began a restriction-of-movement period April 1, prior to departing their homeport of Bremerton, Washington. Since their departure, Nimitz CSG has completed a composite training unit exercise, conducted dual carrier operations with USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) and USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), and made successful pierside port visits to Guam, Duqm, Oman and Manama, Bahrain while observing strict COVID-19 restrictions. Nimitz CSG also supported Operation Inherent Resolve, participated alongside Australian, Indian, and Japanese Maritime forces in Malabar 2020, and continues to operate in the 5th Fleet to demonstrate U.S. commitment to regional security and stability.
The 5th Fleet area of operations encompasses about 2.5 million square miles of water area and includes the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean. The expanse is comprised of 20 countries and includes three chokepoints, critical to the free flow of global commerce.