ESPN reporter Marty Smith went aboard the USS Carl Vinson for a special Veterans Day video to explore what teamwork is all about in a military setting.
“I’ve had experiences in this job beyond my wildest dreams,” Smith said, noting moments where he witnessed notable wins by Tiger Woods in PGA, Dale Earnhardt Jr. in NASCAR, and Tua Tagovailoa in NCAAF.
“But I have never seen anything like this,” he added.
Watch the video below:
Smith was first captivated by the complex operations aboard the flight deck.
“The flight deck of the USS Carl Vinson is a breathtaking environment. Meticulous intensity. Every step offers a sensory reminder of the power and precision of the United States military. Our military,” he said.
“Perfection is expected here. The elements don’t allow for distraction because the alternative is disaster. There is no wasted movement. Every push, pull, and point has distinct purpose,” he noted.
Smith then described the sensory elements of the flight deck, explaining how he was impacted by the smells and sounds of the carefully conducted operations.
“The first thing you notice upon emergence from the maze of tunnels in the ship and onto the surface is the smell. Jet fuel. It smells like speed,” he explained. “Then the focus shifts to sound. The sound is deafening. It is the sound of the finest American engineering. It is the sound of freedom.”
Smith said he chatted with the pilots to learn more about the values and culture shared by the crew, and how they functioned as a team.
“Most of us grew up playing sports in a team atmosphere. The squadron is just a big team, especially a two-seat squadron because we fly together every day and count on each other,” one pilot said.
“We’ve got 180 sailors that turn wrenches on these jets to make sure they fly, and catch them in the runner on the flight deck right now, so it’s a huge team from the bottom up to the top,” another pilot added.
Smith went on to discuss the teamwork of sailors on the flight deck, each dressed in different colored jerseys to distinguish the different responsibilities they carry.
He also went below deck to speak with mechanics and other crew members who work inside the walls of the ship untouched by the sun. He asked one crew member how the 5,000 crew members about the USS Carl Vinson resemble a team.
“You’ve got the captain who’s the coach; he gives all the plays. You’ve got the airmen launching planes; they’re the receivers. And you’ve got us in the reactor; we’re the linemen. We move it and make stuff happen and stop the terrorists from making a touchdown.”
Although overwhelming, Smith described the remarkable impact of being aboard the USS Carl Vinson and observing a next level kind of teamwork only capable in the military.
“I was overwhelmed with appreciation and re-centered by perspective. The faces are so young. The purpose is so palpable. The reason is so resonate,” Smith explained.
“A mere thank you is not enough. ‘Thank you’ seems unappreciative and inadequate. But I must say it. I must stress my deepest appreciation to the sailors of the USS Carl Vinson and all service men and women in the United States armed forces. I am forever changed, and I am forever grateful.