USS John F. Kennedy Sailors visit for citywide cleanup

Published 7:56 pm Tuesday, April 16, 2024

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A bright and windy Friday saw USS John F. Kennedy sailors participate in a citywide cleanup. 

Held in partnership with the city of Suffolk and Keep Suffolk Beautiful, over 400 sailors came out to volunteer and clean 20 areas within Suffolk on Friday, April 12. Rounding out their data, Suffolk Public Works says that the sailors collected 410 bags of trash and 20 tires, with an estimated 10,470 pounds of garbage. During the clean-up, Cmdr. Mike Steffens, navigator onboard PCU John F. Kennedy (CVN 79), said it was a “privilege” to be part of the event.

“As we’re building the ship, we thought to ourselves, ‘How can we extend our service just beyond being in the Navy on a daily basis,” Steffens said. “And on our service to our country and really how that plays out is service to our community, service to each other – both in and out of the Navy – and this is just an extension of that service.” 

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Culinary Specialist 1st Class Hudson Burns, assigned to the Food Service Division onboard PCU John F. Kennedy (CVN 79) also spoke on being part of the clean up and what he will take away from the experience.

“It’s absolutely amazing just to kind of see the entire command come together and to work with the community to build those ties between the military and the civilization population here in the Hampton Roads area and specifically Suffolk,” Burns said. “Obviously, just getting together with a bunch of random people becomes a melting pot and it really just brings the community together and also, not [just] doing it for the community service hours, but doing it for the community itself, it’s just making it a better place to live. Especially for me and my family and other families around it.”

Along with Captain Colin Day, commanding officer of PCU John F. Kennedy (CVN 79), who called the sailors’ efforts an “outstanding example” of continuing to serve their community, City Manager Albert S. Moor II thanked the sailors for their hard work during the meet-up.

“I cannot stress my appreciation and words what this means to me,” Moor said to the gathered sailors. “I thank you from the deepest part of my heart. Suffolk, our residents, thank you for supporting us.”

Following the event, Lt. Cmdr. Ben Mayhugh, chaplain assigned to PCU John F. Kennedy (CVN 79), talked about the “tremendous” coordination process with the city.

“Everything that we needed, they already had, they made this so easy,” Mayhugh said. “All I had to do was to bring bodies and they had all of the equipment that we needed, they knew exactly where we needed to go, they had all the sites picked out. So, they made this so easy to get out here and be involved.”

Likewise, Mayhugh expressed his thanks to the sailors for volunteering for the clean-up.

“Just overwhelmed by the sailors that chose to give up three hours of their work day to come out here and clean a community that they don’t all live in,” he said. “Picking up trash isn’t the most glamorous thing to do, but we have such a great spirit in our command and we have sailors committed to serving… And so, I am just really grateful and overwhelmed by their support.”