An apt beginning to an overview of the visit is to recall “that some things are just meant to be.” Every one and every organization that was asked responded in support of the visit. Even at a casual lunch in Durham, other restaurant guests show their respect for and joy in seeing sailors from the Boat (photo attached).
Day 1 Evening BBQ hosted by the US Naval Academy Alumni Association's Triangle Chapter with 22 in attendance.
Prior to dinner, the Oakwood Cemetery in Raleigh opened its gates after hours so that the Captain and crew members could visit the gravesite of crew members of the CSS Hunley, the first submarine to sink an enemy ship in combat.
Day 2 Private meetings with Susan Klutz, Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources; Roy Cooper, North Carolina Attorney General; Mayor Bill Bell of Durham, NC. Dinner at City Club in Raleigh hosted by the US Naval Academy Alumni Association's Triangle Chapter with 32 in attendance.
Day 3 Crew members participated in the morning Show N Tell at the KidZu Museum in Chapel Hill while the Captain and Chief of the Boat met with the Commanding Officer and staff of the Piedmont Naval ROTC Consortium. Luncheon co-sponsored by the US Naval Academy Alumni Association's Triangle Chapter and the management of the Top of the Hill Restaurant in Chapel Hill (Owner is Scott Maitland US Military Academy '88) with 26 in attendance.
After lunch the Captain and COB visited with Raleigh Mayor, Nancy McFarlane; and Cornelius Wilson, North Carolina's Secretary Department of Military and Veteran Affairs.
Day 4 Visted Wilmington, North Carolina where the 777 was commissioned. The US Naval Academy Alumni Association's Cape Fear Chapter organized a meeting with Wilmington Mayor Bill Safo and the City Council; a tour of the USS North Carolina, BB-55, including the archives of all 4 ships named North Carolina, including SSN 777. The day concluded with a dinner hosted by the SSN 777 Commissioning Committee and friends of the Boat.
When asked “What can we at home in North Carolina do for the Boat and the crew?” the Commanding Officer replied, “Please help us to feel part of the Tar Heel State even though we understand that our homeport of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, is far way. We do our very best to honor our namesake state.” So, we founded the SSN 777 Club based upon the successful model of the Chicago 721 Club.