The Hunt for HEAVY Medal

Guam, May 1, 2011—With visions of Sean Connery and Scott Glenn at the helm from the movie, Hunt for Red October, Armed Forces Entertainment HEAVY Medal III went full speed ahead visiting two Los Angeles-class fast attack submarines, which first came to prominence during the Cold War.

After a late night arrival by Olympian Sean Colgan to join Team USA, HEAVY Medal III started the day with an early duty call aboard the USS BUFFALO (SSN-715) just back in its home port of Guam. Named after the city of Buffalo, NY, SSN-715 is the 28th Los Angeles-class nuclear-powered attack submarine and the first Team USA experienced on the trip.

“When we pulled up to the sub it didn’t look that massive,” commented Nelson Carmichael. “But when you realize that 2/3 of the boat is underwater, it put everything in an entirely new perspective.”

Lt. Kelley called the team aboard the 360-foot long boat for a quick tour of the $900 million dollar machine that for months runs silent and deep. Starting on deck, the group quickly headed down three stories into the heart of the boat to experience what daily life aboard a submarine is like with stops in the mess, crew quarters, CONN for views through the periscope and the highlight of the tour, the torpedoes room.

“It was an amazing day and something most people never have the opportunity to experience,” said US Downhill Champ Kaylin Richardson. “After today’s visit I have a new respect for the sacrifices these individuals make for months on end.”

The team’s second visit of the day was just across the harbor with the 100+ crew of the USS SAN FRANCISCO (SNN-711). With the Sunday duty crew assembled in the mess, Master Chief welcomed the athletes and quickly made the team feel right at home.

“I can relate in a very similar way to their extended deployment when I was on the US Ski Team,” said Caroline Lalive. “I could be gone for four to six months at a time around the world and understand what they go through being away from friends and family for so long.”

Colgan’s Congressional Gold Medal and Carmichael’s Olympic Bronze Medal started flying around the San Francisco mess hall with sailors trying them on and hearing the story behind both. “Most of the young sailors were born after the 1980 Olympic boycott by the US,” commented Sean Colgan. “My story and that of the entire 1980 US Olympic Team was a unique bit of American history for many of the young sailors on the boat and something I was honored to personally share with them.”

Back above deck, divers from the USS FRANK CABLE (AS-40) were underway with underwater work to the sub. Submarine Tenders, such as AS-40, furnish maintenance and logistic support for nuclear attack submarines deployed in the U.S. 7th Fleet Area of Responsibility. After a quick lesson in diving from the 10-man squad, HEAVY Medal’s time with the troops came to an end for the day.

Pride Runs Deep with every member of the submarine brotherhood and it sure did today with the members of HEAVY Medal III. Anchors away and full speed ahead to all those at sea, especially to the special band of mariners that run under the waves silently protecting our freedoms. Thank you!

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