U.S. Navy servicemen are in town this week, on a mission to connect with the public and bolster awareness of the service's role.
The six-day campaign, called Navy Week, includes flight demonstrations by the Navy's Blue Angels and free performances by the Navy Band. More than 250 active duty Navy personnel have arrived in Pittsburgh to support numerous demonstrations and charity projects.
Navy Week kicked off Monday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new Naval Operational Support Center -- the headquarters of the local Navy Reserve -- located at the 911th Airlift Wing in Moon.
In recent years the base had been under threat of closure, but the new $12 million, 30,600-square-foot facility suggests a stable future for both Navy and Air Force reserve units there.
"This puts us in a position where the Navy and Air Force can actively train together," said U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair, who also noted the military is trending toward increasingly close cooperation between the different branches of service.
Robin R. Braun, a Navy vice admiral, said that since 9/11 more than 70,000 Navy Reserve sailors have been mobilized, with about 4,000 Navy reservists deployed last year. Seven sailors from the Moon operations center are presently deployed: four in Afghanistan, two at Guantanamo Bay and one in Africa.
Highlights of Navy Week include:
- Blue Angels -- The six-man F/A-18 Hornet fighter pilot demo team will perform at the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Latrobe Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $16 at the gate; entry is free for children 10 and younger and for military personnel. Gates open at 8 a.m.; show starts at 11 a.m.
- Navy Band -- The band will play at Steel Plaza from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. today and from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum in Oakland. On Friday, the Navy Band Jazz Combo will play at the Three Rivers Arts Festival on Gateway Center Stage from 5 to 6 p.m.
- Bomb squad -- Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal will demonstrate bomb-diffusing techniques at the Pittsburgh Zoo at 10 a.m. today and 11 a.m. Wednesday.
- Carnegie Science Center -- On Friday and Saturday, Navy sailors host exhibits, including robotic demonstrations, hands-on activities for children and a presentation, "From Forests to Frigates," by USS Constitution sailors. Sailors will also be stationed on the USS Requin submarine.
For a schedule of events, visit: www.navyoutreach.org/programs/navy-weeks/Pittsburgh/
Brett Sholtis: email@example.com or 412-263-1581.