OUR OPINION: Community forges strong relationship with USS Sioux City
Since Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus wrote the next chapter in Sioux City’s rich military history in 2012 with his announcement of plans to build several new Navy ships, including the USS Sioux City littoral combat ship, we have expressed nothing but full confidence the city for which the vessel is named would embrace this honor and source of pride with robust enthusiasm.
Today, as we reflect on Saturday’s commissioning of the ship, we salute our community for having accomplished the mission. And then some.
Honestly, we can’t imagine any place in America doing it better.
In fact, each time we met with USS Sioux City Commissioning Committee representatives or ship crew members, we heard only rave reviews for how Siouxlanders have demonstrated support. “Simply amazing” was the description used by Frank Thorp, the retired Navy admiral who chaired the committee, in a meeting with us in August.
Hearing Thorp and so many others share story after story over the last several years about genuine acts of warmth and generosity - from individuals, private organizations and businesses, and local government - related to the USS Sioux City they have encountered fills us with pride in our home.
One example of support is a remarkable degree of financial backing. The commissioning committee’s goal was to raise between $800,000 and $1 million to pay for a week of activities related to the commissioning ceremony at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, and establish an endowment to pay for education opportunities for crew members and their families for the 30-year life of the vessel. The committee raised $844,000, with more than half of that total coming from local and area contributions. Another example is the fact hundreds of local and area residents traveled to Annapolis for the commissioning. Still another example is the donation of food products from a variety of companies for a Taste of Sioux City event following the commissioning ceremony.
Of course, support manifested itself through myriad additional words and deeds - some small, some big, all important - too numerous to list.
We would be remiss if we didn’t single out for mention one local resident. Indefatigable Chris McGowan, executive director of the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce and co-chairman of the USS Sioux City Commissioning Committee, deserves a significant measure of praise for working above and beyond the call of duty to galvanize and organize local and area support of the USS Sioux City. Perhaps more than anyone, he symbolizes the hometown energy and passion produced by this ship.
Based on what we have observed since the vessel announcement six years ago and what we know is our community’s history of respect for U.S. armed forces forged over generations, we look forward to a continued strong local bond with ship and crew members throughout USS Sioux City’s service to the defense of America.