Jacksonville, FL - He’s a “plank owner”- a member of the first class of sailor aboard the USS Gettysburg when it was first commissioned in the early 1990s.
“Whenever the name ‘Gettysburg’ comes across the TV screen or she continues her great history for our Navy, I just have a sense of pride that I had something to do with the first crew,” says Rear Admiral retired Vic Guillory.
He trained alongside roughly 370 sailors as the ship was being built so they would be familiar with it and be ready to hit the sea, at which time he served as the first Executive Officer for the USS Gettysburg. So when Guillory learned the USS Gettysburg deployment would be delayed, he empathized with what the sailors and marines were going through- now needing to find temporary housing or deal with other fallouts from the delay- but also knew the delay would do little to dampen the readiness of the ship.
“They will remain ready. They’re certainly trained, and they will do the things necessary to make sure they can respond,” he says.
Whether the order will come down seems to be the biggest question mark right now. With the Continuing Resolution cuts already taking hold, and additional sequester cuts looming, Guillory says the USS Gettysburg delayed deployment will likely be just the first of the effects.
“We’re just beginning to understand the potential implications if we actually get to that point,” Guillory says.
He says spending needs to be cut in order for the Navy to not exceed its budget under the new cuts. While the initial changes are designed to be reversed if there is a budget deal reached soon, Guillory says the closer we get to the sequestration deadline, the harder the changes are to go back on. And the implications will be felt on more than just servicemen and women, with civilian layoffs and furloughs possible as well.
If in fact there is a deal reached, Guillory holds out hope the USS Gettysburg will be deployed once again.
“The Navy I served in and the Navy we continue to have for this country is a can-do Navy,” he says.
Guillory tells me is best times in his more than 34 years in the Navy were when he served as a sailor, getting to explore new places and perform missions of national importance.
“I felt a great sense of pride belonging to something that was greater than myself,” he says.
And he’s confident that’s what the servicemen, even those now waiting to deploy, feel as well although he believes the local bases are watching closely to what happens in Washington DC. He says, with all the uncertainty, the City of Jacksonville and Department of Veteran and Military Affairs office he leads will be looking for ways to make sure local sailors have what they need.