The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

WHS students see Navy teamwork at work


April 26, 2018

Wahkiakum High School students and chaperones not only got to check out the Osprey on the deck of the USS Portland, but they also had an opportunity to talk to the pilot.

Photos courtesy of Brent Freeman

On April 17, 21 Wahkiakum students and staff got a rare opportunity to tour the USS Portland, a San Antonio Class LPD (landing/platform dock) while it was in Portland.

According to Wahkiakum School District Administrative Director and retired Navy Cmdr. Brent Freeman, who arranged the visit, the USS Portland is "a nearly 700 foot long ship that displaces more than 25,000 tons and is designed for combat and humanitarian operations as part of our US Navy."

"Students had the opportunity to visit nearly all of the spaces on the ship," Freeman said, "including the bridge, the Combat Operation Center, the flight deck, the well deck, the relatively large medical facilities, berthing, the galley, and engineering spaces."

"It was a really cool ship," Casey Wilson, a senior at WHS said. "I was surprised that everyone was willing to talk to us. Anyone would stop and talk to us about what they did on the ship."

Students got to try on gear, climb into the Osprey helicopter and other vehicles on board, and try out some equipment.

It was an eye opening experience for all, but it also turned out to be a team building experience for the young men who play baseball at WHS, and who made up most of the party that had made the trek to Portland.

Wahkiakum students and staff toured the USS Portland in Portland last Tuesday.

"In the Command Center," Wilson said, "they talked a lot about teamwork and communication, about how you've got to be there for your teammates. They talked about how important it is to show up and try to do the best of your abilities."

Wilson's baseball coach echoed some of his words.

"We had a fantastic experience seeing first hand how much teamwork, leadership and accountability play a major role in the success in the Navy," Marc Niemeyer, a WSD teacher and coach said. "In order for them to be effective, everyone has to do their job. Not to mention the opportunity to see such an amazing ship and all it entails."

Another tour that will allow other Wahkiakum students an opportunity to see how the US military works firsthand is being planned for June, according to Freeman.


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