Sailors assigned to the Freedom-variant littoral combat ship USS Indianapolis (LCS 17) visited their ship’s namesake city May 27-31, 2021, and participated in Memorial Day celebratory events leading up to the Indianapolis 500 race.
During the visit, Lt. Carter Bowman, Chief Operations Specialist Marcos Lucero, Operations Specialist 1st Class Zachary Coffman, Mineman 2nd Class Shane Cohen, and Culinary Specialist Seaman Chai Stone-Jackson represented the ship by attending and participating in local events and volunteer projects, meeting Indianapolis 500 racers, visiting the homes of local citizens, and touring attractions in the Indianapolis area.
Highlighting the trip, the five Sailors joined Indiana National Guard and reserve units from five branches of the military in the Memorial Day tribute at the Indianapolis 500.
“It’s been an amazing experience to be in Indianapolis during such an iconic event,” said Lt. Carter Bowman, the weapons officer of USS Indianapolis. “The city has shown us all an incredible amount of hospitality, and I couldn’t be more proud to represent our ship in its namesake city.”
During the trip, the Indianapolis Sailors participated in the pre-race parade, joining all the Indianapolis 500 racers in greeting citizens and race fans. Following the parade, the Sailors joined some of the racers for a meet and greet at local fans' homes, taking part in photo opportunities and presenting challenge coins.
“It is very important for the Navy to continue to have roles in community events,”
said Chief Operations Specialist Marcos Lucero. “As a service, we are always very busy working, but it is important to connect with our communities and show them that we are regular, every day citizens, just like them.”
Between race-related events, the Sailors toured the Indiana War Memorial Museum and attended the American Legion’s Memorial Day ceremony to honor the state of Indiana’s military history and the legacy of the Portland-class heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis (CA 35).
“It was pretty inspirational being able to see the history of the Indianapolis,” said Mineman 2nd Class Shane Cohen. “Being a USS Indianapolis Sailor and getting the chance to visit the Indianapolis War Memorial makes me remember that I am a part of something bigger than myself.”
In addition to visiting local museums and attractions, the Sailors partnered with local volunteer organizations and placed flags by Indiana Veterans’ graves at Anderson Cemetery. The Veterans buried there served in a variety of wars, from the Civil War to Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“Partnering with the local chapters of the Daughters of the American Revolution and placing flags by Veterans’ graves was a very emotional experience,” said Culinary Specialist Seaman Chai Stone-Jackson. “Paying our respects and honoring those who served before us humbled me and made me appreciate life more.”
USS Indianapolis (LCS 17) commissioned on Oct. 26, 2019, and visiting the ship’s namesake city has become an annual tradition.
LCS class ships allow the Navy to strengthen its partnership with other countries’ navies and coast guards. A fast, agile and high-technology surface combatant, Indianapolis, like the other ships in her class, will serve as a platform for launch and recovery of manned and unmanned vehicles. LCSs perform maritime security operations, theater security cooperation engagements, and freedom of navigation patrols; keeping open critical maritime commerce routes. Littoral combat ships are able to patrol the littorals and access ports where other ships may be unable.
USS Indianapolis (LCS 17) is homeported at Naval Station Mayport, Fla., and is assigned to Littoral Combat Ship Squadron 2.