Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The GONZALEZ Year in Review - 2008

2008 was a great year to be 66! While I look forward to the events of 2009, it is a pleasure to look back on the personal and professional accomplishments of GONZALEZ Sailors during the last year. Many of those accomplishments are captured in the posts or links on my blog, but I couldn't resist posting a quick top 5 highlights.

1. Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG-2) Deployment. From the 19 February to 18 August, GONZALEZ deployed to the Mediterranean Sea as the US Navy component to the SNMG-2 task force. While deployed to 6th Fleet, GONZALEZ Sailors experienced first hand many tenants of the Maritime Strategy.

2. Commemorating the 66th Anniversary of the Battle of Midway. What better way for the Sailors of DDG-66 to commemorate the 66th anniversary of Midway than to pose for some retro photos to remember those who have gone before us.

3. Celebrating Mrs. Gonzalez’ birthday. On the day of our return from deployment, we had the honor of combining our homecoming with Mrs. Gonzalez’ birthday. I will never forget the image of GONZALEZ Sailors singing happy birthday after we moored.

4. Participating in the North Carolina Seafood Festival. After such a successful overseas deployment, GONZALEZ Sailors had a chance to demonstrate their pride and professionalism during a port visit to Morehead City, North Carolina.

5. Successfully completing our Unit Level Training Readiness and Assessment Certification (ULTRA-C). While GONZALEZ Sailors will continue to be faced with assessment and inspection challenges in 2009, wrapping up 2008 with a successful ULTRA-C was an excellent conclusion point for the year.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Gonzalez Holiday Cheer

Happy Holidays to all of our GONZALEZ family and friends! It’s that last time of the year between Christmas Day and New Years Eve, that time when children are out of school and for many of us things seem to be moving in slow motion as we await the New Year. Even though the ship is in a holiday leave and upkeep period, your Sailors still stand their watches, still stand duty, and still stand ready for the call. And while we are always ready, the best crew in the Navy certainly knows how to take care of our family and friends during the holidays. This year we held both a GONZALEZ Holiday Party and a Children’s Holiday Party. The GONZALEZ Holiday Party was a tremendous success and a real testament to the Sailors of the planning committee who organized it. Well done! One of the hits of the party this year was the dance contest. While we may not have anyone quite ready to dance with the stars, we did have a few stars of our own.

The very next day, we hosted our Children’s Holiday Party at the Bowling Center on the Naval Station. The GONZALEZ kids had a great time bowling, sampling pizzas and cake and taking part in a few special contests. The best part, of course, was the visit of Santa who brought gifts for everyone! Happy Holidays and Happy New Year! - Captain

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Fighting Freddy BLOG Update

GONZALEZ Family and Friends,

We are two weeks away from closing out 2008, and as Commanding Officer of the Best Crew in the Navy it is easy to look back on the year with a swell of pride. Not only did we complete a very successful deployment to the Mediterranean, returning home with broomsticks lashed to the yardarms, we just passed our Unit Level Training Readiness Assessment Certification (ULTRA-C). Completing ULTRA-C caps off successfully completing every inspection, assessment, and certification since returning from deployment. The men and women of GONZALEZ (your sons, daughters, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, friends, and shipmates) are batting 1000% for the year, and we are taking that record into 2009. Keeping us so busy has meant less time for me to update the blog and tell you about all the great things your Sailors have been doing, and I am woefully delinquent on some significant updates. So here we go...

Way back in September after we returned from deployment, the Hampton Roads Surface Navy Association sponsored their inaugural Enlisted Shiphandling Competition. While GONZALEZ has several Sailors and Chiefs who have stood and still stand watch as Conning Officer on the bridge, I naturally selected our most junior and only qualified enlisted Officer of the Deck Underway, OS2(SW) Dennis Denk, to compete in the contest. I'll let the links below speak for themselves on Petty Officer Denk's performance.

In November, we had the opportunity to conduct a towing exercise with our DESRON TWO sister ship, USS NICHOLAS (FFG 47). It just so happened that we conducted this exercise just days before we took part in two actual rescues at sea (see our earlier post: GONZALEZ to the Rescue). I thought you might want to check out of few pictures of our work with NICHOLAS. As a well done to the Chief Boatswain's Mate and the Best Deck Crew in the Fleet, the Officer of the Deck closed up BRAVO ZULU OD Division on the starboard halyard.

In November we celebrated Thanksgiving onboard GONZALEZ with a phenomenal holiday feast. Is that the XO on the serving line?

In December we also selected our Sailors of the Year and held our Holiday and Children's Holiday Parties. I'll post a holiday and congratulatory blog next.
- Captain