New Year’s onboard USS Harry S. Truman: Firsts of the decade

Sailors assigned to the "Dragon Slayers" of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 11 celebrate the first helicopter launch of the decade in ready room one with a cake from Capt. Daniel Prochazka, the executive officer of the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), in the Arabian Sea Jan. 1, 2020. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Samuel Gruss)
January 05, 2020

The aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) celebrated several firsts of the decade on New Year’s Day while deployed in the Arabian Sea.

Capt. Daniel Prochazka, Truman’s executive officer, delivered specially made cakes to commemorate some notable first events to occur in the year 2020.

“The cakes were an opportunity to highlight to the crew some of the unique things we do out at sea and that they were the first people to do those things onboard Truman, and likely in the whole Navy, in this new decade,” Prochazka proclaimed.

Firsts of the decade celebrated included the first carrier aircraft launch, the first promotion to the rank of captain, and the first general quarters drill.

“When everybody is doing all of this on January 1st, it really does show that we’re working 24/7, 365,” said Prochazka.

Prochazka presented a commemorative cake for the first launch of the decade to the “Dragon Slayers” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC)11, who launched aircraft from Truman early on New Year’s Day.

“It’s something that we do every day, but we have to take a pause and recognize the whole team that’s involved with launching aircraft off an aircraft carrier, and how everybody comes together to make it happen,” reflected Prochazka. “We also did one for the first bolter of the decade, in which an aircraft missed the arresting wires during a landing recovery. There’s a little bit of levity injected into that, but we come back and land safely every time. Even when everything doesn’t go exactly perfect, we make sure that we’re safe. That pilot came back around and nailed the next landing.”

The same morning, Prochazka presented a cake for the first captain promotion of the decade to the ship’s nuclear reactor officer.

“Any time someone is promoted, it’s important,” emphasized Prochazka. “This one was unique. We rarely see people put on O-6; it’s a really incredible accomplishment. To be able to do one on a warship out to sea is even more special. Promotions can be emotionally challenging when you’re not able to celebrate them with your family, but the significance of it really does hit home when you’re able to do it out to sea.”

The last commemorative cake was presented to the ship’s Integrated Training Team who planned the decade’s first general quarters training evolution.

“Truman’s integrated training team plans and executes full-ship training scenarios on a regular basis,” said Lt. Cmdr. Michael Manaskie, Truman’s training officer. “New Year’s Day just happened to be the next day up to routinely sharpen our operational readiness. Once I proposed the day to the team, they were excited at the possibility of being the first U.S. Navy unit to conduct a full-ship GQ scenario.”

Beyond simply being the firsts of the new decade, Prochazka also expressed greater significance in recognizing these events.

“Sometimes we take for granted that there are always Navy ships at sea; the 5,000 plus people onboard Harry S. Truman are truly standing the watch,” Prochazka professed. “They’re not only away from their families over the holidays and into the new year, but they’re ready to answer the nation’s call. Everybody goes into this process. It’s not just the pilots flying the jets, there’s a whole team of people who are working really hard; the firemen doing the damage control exercises during GQ drills, the people who clean the dishes, the people who do the laundry and the bakers who made those excellent cakes. It takes a whole team of people to come together toward this common cause, and we wanted to recognize that – plus everyone loves cake!”

The Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of naval operations to ensure maritime stability and security in the Central Region, connecting the Mediterranean and the Pacific through the western Indian Ocean and three strategic choke points.

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