CDR Ken Franklin, Commanding Officer Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Colorado (SSN 788), and four of his crew, ET1 Joseph Gaines, MM1 Andrew Stuhr, EM2 Kyle Peterson, and YN2 Joshua Craven have completed a 2 ½ day visit to Colorado. Arriving on April 28 from Groton, CT., they visited the Rocky Mountain Navy organization and talked about their pre-commissioning preparations to a group of about 20 retired Navy persons.
The Colorado legislature paid tribute to the crew of USS Colorado on the morning of April 29. In separate ceremonies in the House and the Senate, tributes were read and the crew members got a chance to meet and chat legislators. See pictures of legislature tribute
Two receptions were held for them later that day. A luncheon was hosted at the historic Malo Mansion by Shawna King and the Vollmer family. Approximately 100 guests were present to enjoy lunch in the beautiful garden and learn about the history of previous USS Colorado’s, the goals of the commissioning committee and their campaign kickoff. CDR Franklin gave a brief of his leadership philosophy and the crew members introduced themselves. Also the Colorado Counties Inc., an association of County Commissioners, read a proclamation in tribute to the crew.See pictures of Luncheon
In the evening a similar reception was held for 150 persons at the Governor’s mansion next door. The Lieutenant Governor, Joseph Garcia, provided welcoming remarks. Similar presentations were made as was done at the earlier event. Also the ships crest design contest winner was announced. The winner is Michael Nielsen, a Colorado native currently an Ensign in the United States Navy and assigned to nuclear power training in West Milton. New York. His proud parents, Chris and Bruce Nielsen were present and gave a few remarks about their son. See pictures of Reception
The sailors had a busy day on Thursday. They toured the Broncos training facility in Dove Valley and were able to meet the players and coach Kubiak. After that they visited Cherry Creek High School and Middle School as well as Gardner Academy in Northglenn. They spent an hour with the students telling them a little bit about their life on submarines. From there it was a trip up to University of Colorado at Boulder to visit the University Memorial Center which houses artifacts from the battleship Colorado. There they met with the museum director, Carlos Garcia, and the commanding officer and executive officer of the Naval ROTC unit, Col. John Walsh, USMC and CDR Walt Morgan, USN. Afterwards they made a quick trip to Red Rocks before meeting some committee members for dinner at the Buckhorn Exchange.
All in all it was a great trip. The sailors got a chance to learn a little bit about their namesake state. It was great to see the warm welcome provided by Coloradans and their interaction between with the crew. The Commissioning Committee presented the crew with four picture books of Colorado to take back to Groton so that other crew members who were not able to attend will be able to learn about the Centennial state.
Four sailors from the boat are scheduled to come to Colorado in May to run in the Bolder Boulder on Memorial Day.