Greetings, America-haters. Do you think you could stop raving against our "war criminals" and "killing machines" -- and you, Teddy Kennedy, could you stop panting over those Abu Ghraib photos -- for a moment and join me in praise for our military's compassion and innovation?
At the drop of a hat, the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group sped from Hong Kong to help survivors of the tsunami disaster in southern Asia. How are the unmatched speed, range and overall mobility of the American super carrier possible? Twin nuclear reactors.
Believe it or not, the USS Abraham Lincoln has been banned from docking at certain politically correct ports because of its reactors. For the moment, global environuts have stopped attacking the aircraft carrier over the nuke issue. But you can count on the eco-Luddites returning to their hysterical protests as soon as all the aid has been delivered.
Too much of the world, and too many here at home, take the amazing capabilities of ships like the Abraham Lincoln for granted. The carrier's 1,092-foot flight deck outperforms some of the best commercial airports, launching and recovering up to 90 aircraft on hundreds of flights every day, according to the Navy. Eight steam turbine generators produce enough electrical power to serve a small city. The ship carries approximately 3 million gallons of fuel, and can stock food and supplies for 90 days.
Oh, and those much-maligned nuclear reactors help turn seawater into more than 400,000 gallons of fresh water daily -- clean, safe water desperately needed by survivors. Sailors aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln have reportedly even stopped taking showers to make every last drop of fresh water available to tsunami survivors for drinking.
One of the most touching series of photos available at the Navy's Web site features Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Joshua Savoy and Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Davy Nugent preparing loaves of bread in the aircraft carrier's bakery for tsunami victims. The bakery produces between 600-800 loaves a day. Here are two fine, young American sailors -- representative of thousands of Americans in uniform like them -- lending their skills to help the suffering.
Where are the politicians who will wave Spc. Joshua Savoy and Spc. Davy Nugent's pictures before the TV cameras? Who will make them household names?
Aboard the carrier, every last crewmember -- from medical personnel to engineers to bakers -- is pitching in to help with the relief effort. The crew of about 6,000 has deployed at least 10 of its 17 helicopters to deliver supplies and aid to tsunami victims on the coast. Surgical teams from the carrier have set up triage sites on Sultan Iskandar Muda Air Force Base in Banda Aceh, and are working with teams from Carrier Air Wing Two and the International Organization for Migration.
I would be remiss in not mentioning the rest of the strike group and their leaders: the San Diego-based cruiser USS Shiloh (CG 67), commanded by Capt. Joe Harriss and the destroyer USS Benfold (DDG 65), commanded by Cmdr. Don Hornbeck; the Everett, Wash.-based destroyer USS Shoup (DDG 86), led by Cmdr. Alexander T. Casimes; the Pearl Harbor-based attack submarine USS Louisville (SSN 724), under the command of Cmdr. David Kirk; the Bremerton, Wash.-based fast combat support ship USS Rainier (AOE 7); Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 2; Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 151; Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 137; and Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 82.
You should also know that the members of the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group are no strangers to humanitarian missions. In October 1993, Abraham Lincoln took off from the Arabian Gulf (where it was supporting the U.N.-sanctioned enforcement of the no-fly zone over southern Iraq) for Somalia. The carrier flew patrols over Mogadishu and surrounding areas for four months, backing U.N. ground troops during Operation Continue Hope.
How's that for "stingy"?
I wish I had room to print the name of every sailor, pilot, rescue swimmer, technician and engineer who serves in this strike group -- and on every other American ship, plane and helicopter on its way to help the tsunami victims. You deserve to be seen and known and thanked and remembered. You make America proud.
At the United Nations, saluting our troops is called jingoism. Where I'm from, it's called gratitude.