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Santa Barbara Navy League Joins USS Ronald Reagan in Birthday Celebration

The aircraft carrier marks the 98th birthday of its namesake president.

On the 98th birthday of President Ronald Reagan, Santa Barbara Navy League vice president Grant Ivey, second from left, was aboard the USS Ronald Reagan to join the crew's officers and crew in the birthday celebration.
On the 98th birthday of President Ronald Reagan, Santa Barbara Navy League vice president Grant Ivey, second from left, was aboard the USS Ronald Reagan to join the crew’s officers and crew in the birthday celebration. (MC3(AW) Joshua Scott / USS Ronald Reagan photo)

SAN DIEGO — The crew of the Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) celebrated the birthday of the ship’s namesake, President Ronald Reagan, on Friday.

The ship’s supply department baked a large cake with Reagan’s likeness on it, and just prior to cutting the cake, the ship’s commanding officer, Capt. Kenneth Norton, led the crew in a rendition of “Happy Birthday” to the nation’s 40th president.

“President Reagan was a personal hero of mine,” Norton said during the celebration. “He made the entire nation feel proud to be American again. He made it OK to be patriotic. We are all honored to carry on his legacy of Peace Through Strength (the ship’s motto).”

During an all-hands quarters the morning of the birthday celebration, select Reagan sailors received awards from the Santa Barbara chapter of the U.S. Navy League, in recognition of excellence in the line of duty. As part of a Reagan tradition, the ship’s Sailor of the Year, Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 1st Class Jose Arroyo, received a Stetson cowboy hat, a favorite of the late president, who died in 2004 at age 93.

“We hope you’ll wear this with pride up at the Reagan Ranch,” said Grant Ivey, vice president of the SBNL. “We all are very proud of this crew and proud of the affiliation we in Santa Barbara have had with this ship since christening. On the day President Reagan would have turned 98, we would like to salute you for the way you’ve carried on his legacy.”

Many sailors said they were proud to serve aboard a ship named after a man many historians credit with helping to bring an end to the Cold War, among other accomplishments.

“I love serving here. I’m surrounded by history,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Fuels) Airman Ciena Faeth. “It’s an honor to serve aboard this ship because President Reagan was such a great man.”

“This is the finest ship in the Navy,” said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Keith Perkins. “Ronald Reagan’s greatness resonates in these walls.”

The USS Ronald Reagan is the flagship of Carrier Strike Group Seven and the ninth of 10 Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carriers.

Click here for more information on the Navy League of Santa Barbara or call 805.879.1777.

Lt. Ron Flanders is the USS Ronald Reagan’s public affairs officer.

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