Next week, May 14-20, landlocked Spokane will be awash in sailors. Spokane is one of 15 cities selected to host Navy Week.
The U.S. Navy conducts the events across the country to show Americans the return they receive for their investment in America’s Navy.
Spokane will already be honoring the military during the Lilac Festival, which culminates in the Armed Forces Torchlight Parade on May 19.
Navy Operational Support Center Commander Michael Tief said the community has longtime ties with the Navy. He pointed out that the highest award given to a U.S. Navy Pacific Fleet surface vessel is named for the Lilac City.
The Spokane Trophy is presented annually to the vessel demonstrating the highest proficiency in overall combat systems readiness and warfare operations. “The city of Spokane commissioned this trophy to be made out of local silver,” Tief said.
He also traces the Navy’s ties in the area to Farragut Naval Training Station. Located at the southern tip of Idaho’s Lake Pend Oreille, from 1942 to 1945 Farragut was the second-largest naval training station in the world.
Even today, Tief said, “Two-hundred and fifty Navy reservists from across the area come here for weekend drill.”
Many of those reservists will be participating in Navy Week events and marching in the Torchlight Parade.
Scheduled activities include everything from performances by the Navy Band to demonstrations by the Leap Frogs, the Navy’s parachute team.
If you think Navy Band means John Philip Sousa marches, you’d be wrong.
“The Navy Region Northwest Band is sending its pop music ensemble Passage to perform at public venues and schools,” Lt. Cmdr. Cheol Kang said.
This five-member band performs a variety of pop, rock and country songs. Kang said they’re scheduled to conduct several music clinics at local schools, as well.
If daredevil feats are more your style, a Leap Frog performance might fit the bill.
The parachute team is composed of U.S. Navy Seal and Special Warfare Command commandos. They perform complex formations during their jumps and afterward are available to visit with the public.
Naval representatives will also participate in several community service projects and events, including Caps for Kids. Kang said sailors will team up with members of the Lilac Royalty Court to visit children at Shriners Hospital and Providence Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital.
“The program name describes our sailors handing out Navy ball caps to kids,” Kang said. “Each fleet has their own ball cap, so this is a fantastic way to reach out to kids.”
A more somber event is the Tolling of the Boat Ceremony at Riverfront Park on Wednesday. Keith Phillipy of the United States Submarine Veterans said the ceremony honors the memory of those who lost their lives while serving on submarines.
“The submarine service had the greatest loss of life of any of the Navy service during World War II,” he said.
The name of each sub lost and the number of the crew that perished is read aloud and the bell tolls for each vessel lost at sea.
Navy Week organizers expressed confidence that the activities and events will be well attended. Tief said, “There’s an incredible amount of support from the community here.”
For more information about Spokane Navy Week visit www.navyweek.org/ spokane2012/index.html.