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Mitzels attend USS N.D commissioning

By Staff | Nov 7, 2014

Submitted Bob and Brenda Mitzel, of York, share a moment at the commissioning of USS North Dakota on Oct. 25 in Groton, Conn.

As the ship’s sponsor, Katie Fowler, sounded this command to the crew, “Man our ship and bring her to life” and the crew ran from behind the crowd, across the plank, and lined up on the USS North Dakota from bow to stern, one could not help but get choked up and feel a sense of patriotic pride for North Dakota.

On Oct. 25, 2014, at the Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Conn., the USS North Dakota Submarine was commissioned and sent into active service in the United States Navy.

Once again, Bob and Brenda Mitzel, of York, had the great honor of being present at this remarkable event. As well as attending the commissioning ceremony on Oct. 25, a day earlier they were able to attend an intimate luncheon honoring Katie Fowler. Also in attendance were the Commanding Officer Capt. Douglas Gordon and his wife Christine, Executive Office Lieutenant Commander Kristopher Lancaster and his wife Karen, and Chief of the Boat Master Chief Timothy Preabt and his wife Linda, who are both North Dakota natives.

Following that, they toured the submarine where no one was allowed to take cameras or phones. Questions asked on the tour were carefully answered by the crew so as not to divulge too much information.

They were allowed to see parts of the submarine that included the control room, the lockout trunk chamber that will allow an entire special forces team, such as the Navy SEALs, to exit or re-enter the submarine as a group; the torpedo storage room that is also the sleeping quarters for the lowest ranking crew members, the Mess Hall area, and sleeping quarters for the rest of the crew. There is only one way to describe the hallways of the submarine: VERY NARROW with less than three feet across.

Later that evening, the Mitzels attended the Chairman’s Dinner hosted by the USS North Dakota Committee, where both the sponsor and captain were presented with several gifts including a silver punch bowl that is a replica to the first one made for the first USS North Dakota ship commissioned in 1910. At the commissioning ceremony, after listening to distinguished speakers, those in attendance witnessed the interaction between Commander Gordon and Executive Officer Lancaster as they assumed their roles and prepared to take the submarine into active duty. For the Mitzels, it was again a once-in-a-lifetime chance to go and they felt very honored to be there.

– Tribune Staff Report

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