September 5, 2012
By Ensign Hannah Johnston
USS De Wert (FFG 45) PAO
Residents of Toledo lined the Maumee River banks to welcome USS De Wert as she made her approach into the city of Toledo at the Maritime Plaza Pier.
With a population of less than 300,000, it is the smallest city De Wert will visit throughout her Great Lakes Cruise. The smaller population size, however made no impact on the turnout for Navy Week. More than 4,000 people visited De Wert each day during her four day port visit; the largest turnout De Wert has seen yet.
As a resident of Toledo, Operations Specialist 1st Class Petty Officer Joshua Snyder said, “It was an amazing feeling to be pulling into my hometown. I’ve been in the Navy almost twelve years and never thought I would get the chance to get a port call in Toledo. When the Mayor of Toledo and the rest of the Distinguished Visitors came aboard in Detroit Thursday morning I felt closer to home already.”
After participating in the Distinguished Visitors cruise from Detroit to Toledo, the Mayor of Toledo, Michael Bell, hosted a reception Thursday night for all Navy Week participants where he presented a key to the city of Toledo to De Wert’s Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Joe Thomas.
On Friday morning, De Wert had the opportunity to host a Naturalization Ceremony on board for 23 new American citizens, including one of De Wert’s own, Damage Controlman 3rd Class Petty Officer Trevor Viguilla.
“It was a day I will never forget. I feel very blessed to be able to serve in the US Navy and to become an American citizen on the ship for which I serve. It truly is a privilege I am honored to have,” said Viguilla.
Thomas addressed all of the new citizens and led them in their American Oath, followed by Viguilla leading the new citizens in the Pledge of Allegiance for the closure of the ceremony.
Two very special guests visited De Wert during her stay in Toledo. William De Wert, brother of USS De Wert’s namesake, Hospitalman Richard De Wert and a fellow Marine who served with HN Richard De Wert during the Korean War. Once aboard, the men shared stories and memories with the crew about the honorable man from which De Wert received her name.
The city of Toledo arranged many events for the crew of De Wert to participate in during her stay. Sailors volunteered for more than ten community relations projects (COMREL) where they worked with the Habitat for Humanity, Cherry Street Mission Homeless Shelter, and other various non-profit organizations. The crew also enjoyed their liberty time by participating in batting practice with the local AAA baseball team, the Toledo Mudhens, visiting the roller coaster capitol of the world at Cedar Point, and playing in a USO sponsored golf tournament at Detwiler Golf course.
De Wert continues her Great Lakes Cruise to commemorate the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 with upcoming port visits in Cleveland, Detroit, and Buffalo before returning home to Mayport.
The War of 1812, also known as America’s second war for independence, is regarded by many as the conflict that started our country’s rise to global influence. From 1812 to 1815, we fought to expand to the north and west, and to assert our rights to trade freely with other countries, without interference from Britain’s Royal Navy ships on the high seas. Our modern Navy and our role as a global maritime power are rooted in the events of 1812 to 1815. More information on the Bicentennial Commemoration of the War of 1812 can be found at www.ourflagwasstillthere.org.