LOS ANGELES - The 16th annual Navy Days Los Angeles (L.A.) event series commenced with the arrival of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108) to the Port of Los Angeles, Aug. 14.
Navy Days L.A. is designed to educate the public through tours, distinguished visitor embarks and media coverage of the festivities.
Meyer departed from its homeport of San Diego earlier in the morning along with 106 civilians from the L.A. Navy League. During the transit to L.A., guests were invited to observe demonstrations of damage control equipment, ship's maneuverability, and full tours of the ship's spaces.
While in L.A., Sailors will contribute to the local community by taking part in community relations programs and a variety of Southern California activities. Sailors are scheduled to visit Children's Hospital L.A. as part of the "Caps for Kids" program, assist at the St. Francis Center to feed the homeless, and attend a major league baseball game.
Cmdr. William H. Baxter, Meyer's commanding officer, said he expects L.A. to be impressed with Meyer's crew.
"The crew represents a cross-section of American society and it's important to show that to the public," Baxter said.
The American public should take advantage of visiting a U.S. destroyer and see the hardware their tax dollars paid for, Baxter added. They should also see America's finest serving aboard the ship.
Chief (select) Damage Controlman Paul Ambriz led demonstrations of firefighting equipment as part of the tours. The tours are important because they give civilians a glimpse into how teamwork allows a ship to complete missions, Ambriz said.
Visitor Bill Woodall, a retired teacher and veteran of the Korean conflict, praised the Sailors.
"Everybody on this ship has been outstanding. The crew members, from the officers all the way down to the enlisted personnel, have been wonderful. They are very polite, very helpful, smiling, and happy," he said.
Guests were able to spend time with Sailors, and see the efforts that go into making the Navy work.
"I think it's important because a lot of people do not understand what our young men and women are doing for their country, and I really don't think they understand the caliber of people that are going into the service today," Woodall said.