Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Peleliu Returns from Deployment with Friends, Family on Board

PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- Sailors and Marines aboard USS Peleliu (LHA 5) welcomed more than 250 friends and family members for a "tiger cruise" as the ship departed Naval Station Pearl Harbor Oct. 29, following a four-day port visit.

The term 'tigers' is used to describe the guests of crew members who take part in these types of orientation cruises throughout the fleet.

A total of 266 tigers joined the crew of Peleliu for the final leg of its 2008 deployment as the ship begins the more than 2,000-mile final trek toward its homeport of San Diego. Removing their official Peleliu command ball caps and standing at attention, tigers joined the Sailors and Marines to render honors to the USS Arizona Memorial as the ship pulled out of Pearl Harbor.

Tigers, Sailors and Marines who gathered on the flight deck also got a history lesson as a Sailor who works at the Arizona Memorial narrated the history and pointed out landmarks of the naval base that played such a key role in World War II.

"It's pretty hard to describe, but it's an honor for all of us to be here, and it's pretty amazing to be a part of this history," said Seaman Shawn Armstrong from Naval Station Pearl Harbor's Arizona Memorial Detachment who narrated the history of Pearl Harbor for the tigers and crew as ship departed. "Being able to narrate the history of this harbor during the transit is an honor for me, and I'm happy I was asked to do it."

During the transit back to homeport, the tigers eat, sleep and join Peleliu Sailors and Marines from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) in experiencing life at sea aboard the amphibious assault ship.

According to Lt. Cmdr. Steve Audelo, Peleliu's tiger cruise coordinator, the highlights of the tiger cruise are the damage control Olympics, weapons demonstrations and flight operations. Numerous tours of different parts of the ship will also be available to tigers of all ages.

"My favorite part is seeing the excitement from a tiger when they experience something for the first time," said Audelo.

"A tiger cruise is a rare opportunity for family and friends to see firsthand operations aboard a naval warship," added Audelo. "It is often hard to fully describe what exactly it is we do on board Peleliu, and there is no better experience than actually being here."

Tigers said they are enjoying the opportunity to see what their friends and family members do on a daily basis.

"I feel like I'm really experiencing the Navy," said Taylor Prell, the father of Aviation Electronics Technician 2nd Class (AW) Jordan Prell who is assigned to Peleliu's aircraft intermediate maintenance department. Prell brought two tigers aboard for the return trip, his father and grandfather, Fred Torres.

Peleliu is the flagship of the Peleliu Expeditionary Strike Group (PELESG) which left San Diego May 4 for a scheduled deployment.