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USS Constitution Sailors Visit West Elementary for Navy Week | Community Spirit

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USS Constitution Sailors Visit West Elementary for Navy Week
USS Constitution Sailors Visit West Elementary for Navy Week

Sailors assigned to USS Constitution kicked off their participation in Buffalo Navy Week as part of the bicentennial of the War of 1812 commemoration taking place in Western New York Sept. 10-17.

At one of their first stops for the week, the sailors discussed early U.S. Navy history at West Elementary School in a presentation Sept. 10 with more than 100 fifth grade students.

"We are excited to be able to commemorate the War of 1812 as part of Buffalo Navy Week," said Cmdr. Matthew Bonner, Constitution's 72nd commanding officer. "We are able to talk about the role Constitution played not only in its battles at sea, but also about its sailors who travelled overland from Boston with cannons to support Commodore Perry during the battles on Lake Erie."

"I hope that while in Buffalo we can make an impact on the people we encounter," said Personnel Specialist 1st Class James Choyce. "We hope to instill a sense of pride in their Navy, and we hope they can walk away with an increased knowledge of not only what their Navy is doing today, but what their Navy has been doing for over 200 years."

At West Elementary, members of the USS Constitution crew introduced themselves and described their current jobs, as well as what they would have been responsible for in 1812. Roles included everything from personnel and payroll to firearms training and plotting the ship's course. Students were amused to hear how some younger sailors were in charge of running down to the armory to retrieve gunpowder to bring up to the deck if fire was exchanged.

Students learned about the history and need for the U.S. Navy, as well as the USS Constitution, which was commissioned in 1797. Constitution is the world's oldest commissioned warship afloat and welcomes more than 500,000 visitors per year. She defended the sea lanes against threat from 1797 to 1855, much like the mission of today's Navy.

Constitution is most famous for her actions during the War of 1812 against Great Britain, when she captured numerous merchant ships and defeated five British warships - most famously the HMS Guerriere. The battle with Guerriere earned her the nickname of "Old Ironsides," because her hull was not penetrated by British fire.

Constitution Sailors are also scheduled to participate in community service projects, perform War of 1812-era gun drills and 17th century boarding pike drills daily at Central Wharf, and will serve as color guard details at five events, including a Buffalo Bills football game.

Buffalo Navy Week will commemorate the bicentennial of the War of 1812 and The Star Spangled Banner with U.S. Navy ship visits, and special events recognizing America's Navy for keeping the sea free for more than 200 years. The primary purpose of Navy Week is to increase Navy awareness by presenting the Navy to Americans who live in cities that normally do not have a significant naval presence. Buffalo Navy Week will showcase the mission, capabilities and achievements of the U.S. Navy and provide residents the opportunity to meet Sailors firsthand.

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