Press Release

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USNS Comfort Public Affairs Office
MSC PAO 01-62
For more information, contact:
Marge Holtz or Bridget Morris
202-685-5055 or 202-494-6524
September 28, 2001

Senators visit USNS Comfort in NYC
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By JO3 Rebecca Whitney

ABOARD USNS COMFORT IN NEW YORK CITY...The crew of Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort received a visit Sept. 20 from more than 40 members of the U.S. Senate including Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and Senator Ted Kennedy.

The senators were in New York to show their support for the recovery efforts and tour Ground Zero - the site of the attack on the World Trade Center - when they stopped to visit USNS Comfort for a tour of the ship and a hot meal. Sailors were given the opportunity to escort senators from their home states on the tour and talk with them while they ate lunch.

"Comfort's Sailors really enjoyed the visit. It was a real morale booster for the crew," said Navy Cmdr. Bess Harrahill, MSC, USN, Comfort's Medical Treatment Facility Executive Officer. "The senators were very friendly and open. They took the time to talk to each of us."

Many of the Sailors were able to greet and get photos taken with a senator from their home state. New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton visited with most of the crew, taking pictures and letting each Sailor know that she is thankful that they are here.

"Just the other day I was telling someone that I would like Senator Clinton to come on board so I could meet her," said Navy Religious Program Specialist 2nd Class Amos Rucker from Elberton, Ga. "Lo and behold, she showed up."

Rucker got his picture taken with Senator Clinton and Senator Zell Miller, former governor of Georgia. He also got a picture of the ship autographed by several senators.

"The senators made me feel appreciated," said Rucker. "It's been hard to understand that we are really helping sometimes because we are not at Ground Zero, but they let us know we are doing good work and helping the rescue operation greatly. I think they are proud of us."

Navy Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Dan St. Hilaire added, "It was so neat to have the chance to meet Senator Clinton, and now I even have a picture of the two of us."

The senators stayed aboard about 45 minutes and then departed for Washington for the President's address to the nation. But the excitement for the crew wasn't over yet. Friday morning Senator John McCain stopped by USNS Comfort to visit with the crew and let them know he supported their mission.

He ate breakfast with several Sailors from Arizona, including Navy Lt. Cmdr. Beth Gering, NC, USN. "I think he is someone I can really identify with because of his significant service to our country," said Gering. "He understands what it means to serve the United States."

Before Senator McCain left the ship, he spoke to the crew over the ship's announcement system to say thank you, tell them he was proud of them and to keep up the good work.

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