Sailors from the USS Toledo are to visit the Maritime Academy of Toledo and Toledo Children’s Hospital today and tour the Wrangler production line at Chrysler’s Toledo Assembly complex to kick off a four-day visit to the Navy submarine’s namesake city.
The seven-man group, led by Cmdr. Sam Geiger, the Toledo’s commanding officer, also is slated to appear at Fifth Third Field during the Toledo Mud Hens’ Military Night on Thursday, tour the Toledo Zoo on Friday, and visit Fort Meigs on Saturday during a War of 1812 commemorative event.
The USS Toledo group will split up for some of the local stops that include some private meetings with local leaders and receptions with local veterans’ groups.
Along with the maritime academy visit, the delegation’s educational missions are to include participation in an assembly and panel discussion Thursday at the Toledo Technological Academy in West Toledo and a meeting Saturday with the Toledo Sea Cadets, a Navy-oriented program for teens based locally at the Rossford Navy Center.
The “command visit” is sponsored by the Toledo-Erie Islands Chapter of the Navy League of the United States. Jim Black, the chapter’s president, said such visits promote public understanding of the armed services and their missions.
“People don’t realize a majority of Navy recruiting comes from the Midwest,” said Mr. Black, a retired Toledo real estate agent and Naval Academy graduate who served 17 years in active and reserve duty with the Navy.
Awareness of the Navy’s role, which includes transporting employees, equipment, and supplies around the globe along with being a waterborne fighting force, is vital “so we don’t have people in Washington saying they [the Navy] should take a day off every two weeks,” Mr. Black said, referring to the federal budget crisis and resulting “sequester.”
But while USS Toledo corpsmen have visited Toledo from time to time for training with city medical responders, the last command visit here occurred a decade ago, said Frank Melhorn, a Toledo lawyer who is helping coordinate the tour.
Commander Geiger, the Toledo’s commanding officer for “coming up on two years,” said he considers visits to his vessels’ namesake cities an important community-relations tool and has set up similar visits during previous commands.
“The opportunity of taking some of the sailors back and see the community is something I’ve wanted to do since I’ve been on the Toledo,” he said. “I felt the connection with previous city visits. These are proud sailors doing the job well with the Toledo name.”
Along with the commander, the delegation includes Lt. Cmdr. Adam Zaker, Machinist Mate Chief Jeffrey Picerno, Machinist Mate 1st Class David Beatus, Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Juan Camacho-Calderon, Fire Control Technician 2nd Class Joel Doherty, and Machinist Mate Fireman Rudy Taylor III.
The sailors’ visits to the maritime academy today and the technical academy on Thursday, Mr. Melhorn said, will emphasize the importance of technology-based education “in the future not only of the Navy, but of everything.
“Technical education, especially at the secondary level, is essential,” he said, adding that the school visits will be “probably the most important things these guys will do” in Toledo.
The Blade will host a dinner for the visitors at the Toledo Club, where they are lodged, after their tour today at the Jeep plant. Along with the event Saturday at Fort Meigs, their itinerary includes a stop Friday at the Toledo Museum of Art for a tour and a briefing on its upcoming Battle of Lake Erie bicentennial exhibition, scheduled to open Aug. 9.
The Toledo, a Los Angeles-class, nuclear-powered — but not nuclear-armed — submarine commissioned in 1995, recently returned to its Groton, Conn., home port and is undergoing shipyard maintenance this spring and summer while its 130-member crew receives shoreside training, Commander Geiger said.
Along with the visiting delegation’s appearance at Fifth Third this week, arrangements are being made for a USS Toledo group outing to a game in Pawtucket, R.I. — a little more than an hour’s drive from Groton — when the Mud Hens play the Pawtucket Red Sox there in late June.
The Mud Hens have fostered an especially strong link between the submarine and the city, Commander Geiger said. A baseball, a bat, and numerous other memorabilia — some of it autographed — are displayed on the boat’s mess deck, through which everyone aboard regularly passes through.
The Mud Hens and Toledo are “part of our daily life under way because of that memorabilia,” Commander Geiger said.
“We cherish the relationship immensely,” said Kim McBroom, the Mud Hens’ chief marketing officer. “We’re pleased to see it continue and expect it to continue.”
Contact David Patch at: email@example.com or 419-724-6094.