Farragut’s Independence Day Parade is always packed with excitement, but this year’s event had a heaping helping of patriotism thanks to seven active-duty sailors from the USS Farragut.
The sailors marched in the parade as part of a namesake visit to the town. It’s traditional for the Navy to reach out to communities that share a ship’s namesake to make a connection with local leaders and residents. It creates opportunities for recruiting, but it’s also just good exposure for the Navy, says Commander Tom Roberts, executive officer of the USS Farragut.
It wasn’t Roberts’ first trip to Farragut. His in-laws lived in Farragut for years before moving to Lenoir City. But he’d never had a visit like this. The week kicked off with the parade, a catered lunch and a tour of historic resources, including the Farragut Museum. Other highlights were visits with Farragut Mayor Ron Williams, Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs and U. S. Rep. Tim Burchett.
The sailors were also special guests at a Tennessee Smokies game, where Petty Officer Kevin Diaz threw the first pitch.
The homeport of the USS Farragut is Mayport, Florida. The sailors were excited to travel to Tennessee, a trip that was funded by the Navy, says Roberts. Most were unaware of the town that shares the ship’s namesake and enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about it. Even Roberts learned something new.
“I didn’t know that the town is only 42 years old. That really surprised me,” he says.
The opportunity to travel inland was unusual for the ship’s crew, which will deploy in about a month as part of the George H. W. Bush CVN 77 Carrier Strike Group 10. Roberts expects to spend some time in the Mediterranean Sea, but says the ship tends to move around based on world events. The deployment of the crew of 325 is expected to last approximately seven months.
While being away from family and friends for months at a time is hard, the opportunity to travel the world and see foreign ports is one of the selling points of the Navy, Chief Petty Officer John Franco says. During the early days of Covid, sailors didn’t get to make as many stops as usual, so they didn’t get the experience they’d signed up for. Having the opportunity to visit other countries again will be helpful because it will encourage sailors to continue their Navy careers, Roberts says.
Franco’s wife and 15-month-old daughter came along on the visit to Tennessee. He’s not looking forward to being away from them, but he is anticipating the challenges of serving with his team and travelling. He knew what he was signing up for, he says, and being separated from family was a cost he counted.
“It’s for something bigger than myself.”
He’s also thinking ahead to his future after the Navy. He’s now considering putting down roots – in Farragut, Tennessee.
The town of Farragut thanks those who serve aboard the USS Farragut, as well as the other service men and women who make personal sacrifices to protect the life and liberty of others.
Town of Farragut communications manager Wendy Smith is your reliable Farragut insider.