It has been six years since hoopla surrounding the commissioning of the USS Arlington subsided, but efforts remain afloat to keep ties between the U.S. Navy ship and its namesake community strong.
On Sept. 7, the USS Arlington Community Alliance sponsored a reception for the ship’s captain and some of its crew, who were in the Washington area to participate in (and winning the military category of) the 18th annual Arlington Police, Fire and Sheriff 9/11 Memorial 5K, honoring those killed in the 2001 terrorist attacks and saluting the first-responders from Arlington who supported recovery efforts at the Pentagon.
“I want you to know how much the USS Arlington means to this community. We really appreciate the service and the sacrifice you make for us,” Del. Patrick Hope (D-47th) told the ship’s personnel at the event, held at Fire Station #5. Located in Aurora Highlands near Crystal City, the station provided some of the first rescue personnel on the scene at the Pentagon after the Sept. 11, 2001, attack.
That fraternal bond was echoed by U.S. Navy Capt. Paul Lanzilotta, the ship’s commander.
“It’s an honor to be up here, connected to our heritage,” said Lanzilotta, who in February succeeded Capt Todd Marzano as commanding officer of the Norfolk-based warship. Marzano is set to become the first commander of the $11 billion nuclear aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy when it enters service next year.
Lanzilotta said the connection between the USS Arlington and its namesake community is unusually strong. “It just blows me away how great it is,” he said.
Circling back on the theme, County Board Vice Chairman Libby Garvey (on hand with her colleague Erik Gutshall) told the sailors that “you are a part of our community – a part of the team – and we’re so glad you’re here.”
Also on hand from the Arlington government were County Manager Mark Schwartz, Deputy County Manager Jim Schwartz and the police and fire chiefs. But the focus was on the men and women, some in their teens and early 20s, who crew the ship.
“We’re intensely proud of you,” former county Treasurer Frank O’Leary told crew members. O’Leary was joined by Kevin Reardon, Jim Pebley and others who had worked to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars (and public awareness) to support the ship and its crew from its initial designation as USS Arlington through its commissioning and beyond, and to keep ties strong as the ship sailed on deployments around the globe.
Commissioned in 2013, the USS Arlington is a 685-foot-long amphibious landing dock, designed to transport U.S. Marines to world hot-spots. It is the third ship in U.S. Navy history to bear the name “Arlington.”