Members of the crew of the USS Toledo SSN769 were in town this week for a command visit, part of the Navy’s program to renew ties to the ship’s namesake city. All who have met the submariners agree it’s been a pleasure and a privilege to play host to these fine men.
They visited the Maritime Academy of Toledo and Toledo Children’s Hospital, and toured the Jeep Wrangler production line at Chrysler’s Toledo Assembly complex. They attended a Mud Hens game, where one of the seamen sang the national anthem. They went to the Toledo Zoo, and today will visit Fort Meigs for a War of 1812 commemoration.
The seven-man delegation is led by the Toledo’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Sam Geiger, a 22-year veteran of the Navy. Commander Geiger told The Blade’s editorial board that his greatest point of pride is his men, most of whom are 19 to 25 years old.
They must acquire extensive technical skills and live in close quarters without sunlight for weeks at a time. They may be away from their loved ones for six or seven months during a deployment.
Meanwhile, the USS Toledo itself is back in Groton, Conn., being tuned up — a process that happens constantly and at no small expense. The average life of a sub is about 35 years and the Toledo is 20 years old, so, like many of us of a certain age, it needs good care and upkeep.
Soon the crew will be back on the ship and back to sea — where, Commander Geiger says, most of his men would rather be than anywhere else, for all the hardships sea duty entails. The Toledo conducts surveillance and reconnaissance, which means its crew is protecting our country, often in dangerous places.
Welcome to America’s other Toledo, gentlemen. We thank and salute you.