U.S. Navy Week, celebrated in south Mississippi just outside of Biloxi, may just have been the biggest event of the year. This week long celebration from April 1st – 8th started off with the Mississippi Bicentennial Celebration and ended with a salute to the 75th anniversary of the Seabees on Seabee Day.
Some of the main highlights from this annual celebration included a performance by the Navy Band and jumps by the U.S. Navy Parachute Team Leap Frogs. The objective of these events is to raise awareness of the Navy, its purpose, and its people. The events all took place in locations between the Coast of Pascagoula down to the Infinity Science Center.
The Parachute Team performed formation jumps throughout the week. They even brought along the Gulfport City Mayor, Billy Hewes, and the director of the Port of Gulfport, Jonathan Daniels. The pair got to experience the thrill of tandem skydiving with the Leap Frogs on Monday April 3rd. They landed safely in Jones Park, not far from the nearby lighthouse.
The Parachute Team also presented the American flag during their formation jump. The Mississippi city mayor was thrilled with his experience. His tandem skydiving instructor has over 20,000 jumps to his name and is highly trained.
“Nothing like it. It was just amazing. Just brought home how beautiful our area is, this is a perfect day. We can’t thank our Leap Frogs enough for doing what they’ve done, part of military week,” said Mayor Hewes, “It’s our honor to host them all the time. But to let us do something like this, let me do something like this, was a once in a lifetime deal.”
Hewes had also started off Navy Week on the previous Saturday when he presented the Mississippi Gulf Coast Navy Week Proclamation at the Mississippi Bicentennial Celebration.
Also during the Bicentennial Celebration on Friday and Saturday there was a Navy dive simulator, multiple helicopters giving quick rides, and Seabee equipment on display for the public to view. Public affairs officer for the Naval Construction Battalion Center in Gulfport, Brian Lamar, confirmed that the Seabees were also present to explain what the equipment was and how each piece was used.
Navy Week was hosted by two senior Navy leaders. The first was commander of Naval Facilities Engineering Commander and Chief of the Civil Engineer Corps, Rear Admiral Bret Muilenburg. The other was Rear Admiral Timothy Gallaudet, who is also the commander of Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command at Stennis Space Center. The two served as flag hosts at the event. They had nothing but good things to say about the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
“This region has supported our Seabees throughout their history, and the people certainly supported me during my time here,” Muilenburg said. “It’s always important for the Navy to share our mission with citizens in local communities, but it is a distinct pleasure to share that mission and celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Seabees in such a special place.”
There will be 15 Navy Weeks celebrated this year across the United States. The Mississippi Gulf Coast celebration was the third. It ended on April 8th by honoring the 75th anniversary of the Seabees on Seabee Day. This celebration of the men and women of the Naval Construction Force at the Seabee Base in Gulfport, MS was be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. There were free carnival rides for children, music, Navy displays, and much more. There was even a chance for attendees to interact with U.S. Navy officers. Sailors were present on this day to answer questions about their jobs, daily routines, and equipment.