This was my second day aboard the Iowa. Last weekend I joined up with a small group of strangers who soon became shipmates, as we went about the task of removing the walls of a petty officers lounge to make way for expanding the museum space. The task at first seemed daunting as the walls resisted our grinding tools that made little progress against what turned out the be honeycomb metal walls. We soon collectivly seized upon using a combination of metal saws and grinders to cut away the walls and open the space. Sparks flew, smoke spewed, and the ever present danger of fire, was suppressed under a careful watch. The walls soon gave way to present a new problem of how to get them topside. All the while, our little group continued to bond and in doing so, put our heads together to solve the problem of removing walls, then winching them topside through the hatch via a block and tackle. By the end of the day we were the tightest of shipmates, and left for our homes with a feeling of accomplishment, and even deeper, that sense of comraderie when you've made new friends.
I came away with two impressions, the first, that all of those who have volunteered, each feel a deep sense of commitment to the ship and the sea service. And second, they all share the feeling that they are part of a great enterprise, and take immense pride in working on the Iowa. Even more heartening, was my impression of the high school students who never once complained, or shirked from any assignment, and actually jumped at any task they were assigned. I am assured, that some of America's future leaders were among that group, and demonstrated the kind of grit and innovation that is a purely American trait.