As Commanding Officer a Navy ship, I have the best job in the Navy, and with a crew like mine, I also have the easiest job onboard GONZALEZ. At the beginning of 2009, we published command goals for the year. My only direction was to set achievable and measurable goals. My XO and CMC then drafted a set of goals based around our command philosophy, vetted them through the crew, and then I had the easy job - I approved them. Under our category of "Do Our Best at Everything," we have a goal to 'Maintain Eligibility for all Safety and Health Awards." Not only did we win our third consecutive Fleet Health and Wellness Award - what we call the GREEN H - we also recently took a proactive approach toward motorcycle safety. All I asked was that we find a way to put out a positive motorcycle riding story and my motorcycle riders did the rest - again, I have the easy job. My Public Affairs Officer tells it best...only fitting too that I included a picture of our GREEN H winning Doc on his bike as well. - CO
---- Gonzalez Public Affairs (ENS Monika Hess)
(NORFOLK) —Motorcycle riders onboard the Norfolk based destroyer USS Gonzalez (DDG 66) decided it was time for a positive news story regarding the increase in motorcycle usage and the military. On 9 April, seven Gonzalez Sailors went on a command-sponsored, group motorcycle ride around the Hampton Roads beltway to promote motorcycle safety and to raise a little money for the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS) at the same time. With a $10 buy-in, the Gonzalez riders added an additional $70 to the command’s total to NMCRS, a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide emergency financial assistant to Sailors and Marines.
With recent and renewed Department of Defense-wide attention placed on motorcycle safety, proper protective equipment, and required motorcycle riding courses, Gonzalez riders joined together to show off the positive aspects of riding, build camaraderie and support the Navy’s motorcycle safety requirements. “This was a great opportunity for new bikers to get comfortable on their motorcycles with more experienced riders,” said Hospital Corpsman Chief Petty Officer Mike Ferretta. The riders met up at the Naval Exchange Service Station at the Norfolk Naval Base, completed a ride around the Hampton Roads beltway, and then met up with the rest of the command at the Norfolk Naval Station Bowling Alley for a command Morale Welfare and Recreation (MWR) Bowling Tournament as part of a ship-wide celebration for completion of a successful Selective Restrictive Availability (SRA) period.
After a safety brief, the Gonzalez riders departed for their ride wearing proper riding jackets, reflective garments, and helmets. The road captain, Fire Controlman First Class Randy Sturgill, planned the route which looped around Hampton Roads through Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Pungo, and Chesapeake. “It was a great day for a ride. We rode for about two hours with several stops along the way,” said Information Technician Chief Petty Officer Brent Robinson. The group traveled on interstates, highways, two-lane roads, and winding country roads. Despite the different driving environments, the group maintained a staggered formation with a road captain, a tail, and two road guards.
Fire Controlman First Class David Belt, a seasoned motorcycle rider, was among the Gonzalez riders. Belt who had recently been in a motorcycle accident when another motorist pulled into his lane unexpectedly commented, “When you ride a motorcycle, you may get in accident at some point. The Basic Riding Course [the Navy’s required motorcycle safety course] gave me a foundation to safely get on the road and mitigate an injury. The Basic Riding Course is a great training tool.” Gonzalez anticipates more group rides to continue to promote awareness and safety.