"This year is the 69th anniversary, and I was fortunate enough to be in southern France as a lieutenant to recognize the 50th anniversary many years ago," said Capt. Craig Clapperton, Mount Whitney's commanding officer "This has been Mount Whitney's third consecutive year in Theoule-sur-Mer, and the city and the ship have developed a great friendship."
During the visit, Sailors hosted ship tours and an on board reception, took part in wreath-laying ceremonies, marched in a parade, attended a reception at city hall and a participated in a military ceremony at the Rhone American Cemetery.
Sailors also participated in a parade from the pier to the center of the city and attended a formal reception at Theoule-sur-Mer's town hall, hosted by Mayor Daniel Mansanti.
"Meeting the mayor was great," said Information System's Technician 1st Class Danny Suarez. "I never in my life would have imagined being in the French Riviera and having the chance to meet the mayor."
The last event was a full military ceremony at the Rhone American Cemetery and Memorial in Draguignan. Charles Rivkin, United States Ambassador to France and Monaco and Clapperton were the guests of honor.
The event started with the presentation of colors by Mount Whitney's color guard, followed by the playing of the U.S. and French national anthems by the U.S. 6th Fleet band.
"It was fantastic taking part in the remembrance ceremony at the Rhone Cemetery today," said Ship's Serviceman 3rd Class Cequita Edmond, a member of the color guard. "Being able to present our national colors during the event was truly a humbling experience."
Mount Whitney, homeported in Gaeta, Italy, is the U.S. 6th Fleet flagship and operates with a combined crew of U.S. Sailors and civil service mariners. The civil service mariners perform navigation, deck, engineering, laundry and galley service operations, while military personnel aboard support communications, weapons systems and security.