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The Truman show

Gavin Mills reports from onboard the USS Harry S Truman as she makes a stopover at Portsmouth

The USS Harry S Truman (CVN 75) is heading back to homeport after being relieved in the Arabian Gulf by the USS Carl Vinson Strike Group on 19 March.

The Truman deployed on 13 October 2004, taking over from the USS John F Kennedy (CV 67) on 20 November, subsequently flying some 2,577 sorties, totaling nearly 13,000 flight hours, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and maritime security operations (MSO). Truman and Carrier Air Wing 3 (CVW 3) maintained protective cover over US and Coalition troops during the Iraqi elections on 30 January 2005.

"I'm very proud of the close cooperation and 'esprit de corps' on the ship, Air Wing and throughout the Strike Group" said Commander, Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 10 Rear Admiral Michael C Tracey. "I know for a fact that the troops on the ground appreciated our ability to provide close air support."

Shipboard leadership mirrored Tracey's approval. "For all the people in the mission - absolutely superb job," said Truman Commanding Officer Captain James P. Gigliotti in an all-hands address. "We've done an outstanding job all the way through this evolution for the past four months."

According to the commander of CVW-3, Captain Patrick F. Rainey, the Air Wing and Truman were the first team to implement the Fleet Response Plan from the beginning (the FRP features changes to readiness postures enabling an enhanced surge capability for the Navy to allow it to swiftly defeat aggression in overlapping conflicts). While it's too early to tell what it will look like in the next five years, Rainey said the sailors and Marines are already looking to the near future to see what their role in it will be. "When we get home, we'll be able to relax in pieces before we start flying and conducting Air Wing training," said Rainey. "We'll be maintaining a high level of readiness and conducting sustainment training for the next eleven months."

Truman had the privilege of visiting Manama, Bahrain and Dubai where sailors and Marines enjoyed what the local culture had to offer during the brief periods of rest and relaxation.

Underway between Arabian excursions ashore, the ship and Air Wing hit the deckplates hard when it came to the daily grind of flight operations, general quarters training evolution and underway replenishments.

CVW-3 witnessed the end of an era this deployment with the final combat flight of Fighter Squadron (VF) 32's F-14B Tomcats, which will be replaced by F/A-18F Super Hornets later this year. While there are some heavy hearts within VF-32 they know it's a necessary step forward in their mission. "I'm lost for words," said Chief Aviation Machinist's Mate (AW/SW) Jerry Robinson, whose twenty-three year career witnessed the heyday of the Tomcat. "It hasn't really hit me yet that they're gone."

 

"It's a little sad," said VF-32 Maintenance Officer Lt Commander Randy Stearns, who has flown Tomcats for fourteen years, "but it's good to know we're introducing the Super Hornet and pressing on."

VF-32 has already begun the transition to the new platform and will rejoin CVW-3 in early spring 2006.

The Swordsmen have adorned their mounts with nose art featuring an American 'Swordsman' at the moment of victory and the legend 'Deus et Patria', or 'God and Fatherland'.

Also carried is the following inscription 'Final Gypsy Roll - 32 Years of Tomcats' - the squadron's callsign traditionally being 'Gypsy'.

With thanks to Commander Terrence Dudley and his staff in the US Navy Public Affairs Office in London and Chief Harrison and colleagues of the USS Harry S Truman's public affairs team for making this article possible.

 

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