The USS Abraham Lincoln currently stationed somewhere in the North Arabian Sea recently had some very special visitors.
They included Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of Multinational Force Iraq; Army Gen. David McKiernan, commander of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan; Navy Adm. Eric Olson, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command; and Army Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey, acting commander of U.S. Central Command.
The senior officers toured the ship, attended briefings, visited with Lincoln and Carrier Air Wing 2 crewmembers and awarded a Helicopter Squadron 2 sailor the Navy/Marine Corps Medal.
Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Jesse P. Hubble, an aviation warfare systems operator, was recognized for his efforts in rescuing seven crewmembers in a crash of a Navy HH-60H helicopter off the coast of Southern California in November 2007.
“It was completely unexpected, but extremely appreciated,” Hubble, a San Diego native, said. “It’s a really big day for me.”
Mullen congratulated Hubble and addressed the Helicopter Squadron 2 and Lincoln crews.
“Thank you,” he said. “You represent the thousands of shipmates who couldn’t be here. I want to express my/our gratitude for everything you do out here.”
According to Mullen, “I’ve been around for a very long time. Hands down, you’re the best I’ve ever seen. We couldn’t do this without you and your families’ support. It’s truly been spectacular in the last seven years.”
Mullen then added, “Thank you for the hospitality. It’s a terrific ship, a terrific crew, and I can’t say enough. From the captain down to the folks that prepare the meals and make the screws turn, you’re doing an excellent job.”
With less than two months left at sea, Mullen reminded Lincoln sailors not to become complacent within their jobs.
“You’ve done a great job so far,” he said. “Keep your heads in the game and get Lincoln home safely.”
Petraeus and Mullen walked throughout the crowds meeting sailors, and Mullen posed for pictures and passed out coins.
Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class James E. Harrison, an aviation electronics technician with Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department, said meeting Mullen was a unique experience.
“He gave me my first coin,” Harrison said. “I doubt I’ll be able to top it. I think it’s really neat that he took time out of his busy schedule to hang out with us and see how we live out here on the ship.”
The chairman had more words of praise for the deployed sailors.
“Thanks for what you are doing — for serving your country, especially during this critical time,” Mullen said. “Lincoln and [Carrier Strike Group 9] have an exceptional reputation.”
Navy Rear Adm. Scott Van Buskirk, the strike group commander, congratulated the crews for a job well done in facilitating the visit.
“Thank you for all of the hard work and helping out to make this visit a success,” he said. “The visit went very well, and I think they had a good time visiting with you guys. Good job.”
The USS Abraham Lincoln is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility supporting operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, as well as performing maritime security operations.