On Saturday May 4th, Lieutenant Junior Grade (LTJG) Anthony Matus, LTJG Timothy Bell, Machinist’s Mate First Class (MMN1(SS)) Chris Guitierrez and Fireman (FN(SS)) Albert Rodriquez arrived in Denver for a four day visit to our state. LTJG Matus, the Assistant Operations Officer, had actually been on a previous crew visit in October of 2017. LTJG Bell has been on board about eight months and is currently the Chemistry and Radiological Assistant. MMN1(SS) Guitierrez is a nuclear machinist mate and hold the distinction of being the longest serving member of the crew having reported with the first increment of the engineering department in 2014. FN(SS) Rodriquez, a member of Auxiliary Division, completed the requirements for submarine qualification in only six months, one of the shortest times of any of the crew.
That evening the crew went to Big Bill’s Pizza in Littleton for dinner. They were greeted warmly by the owner who introduced them to the patrons who gave the sailors a standing ovation. It was a great welcome to Colorado.
On Sunday the crew visited some of the Cinco de Mayo festivities in Civic Center Park and then attended the Colorado Rockies game at Coors field. They were given a rousing reception as they were introduced to the crowd during the seventh inning stretch. In the evening several members of the USS Colorado Submarine Association treated our visitors to dinner at the historic Buckhorn Exchange in Denver.
Monday was a busy day for our sailors. They made presentations at Castle View High School in Castle Rock and Casey Middle School in Boulder. In the afternoon they received a special tour of the Capitol and observed a flag raising from the balcony of the Capitol dome. They met with the Governor who presented them with the Colorado state flag. From there it was off to the University Memorial Center (UMC) at CU Boulder. The UMC is the official repository of USS Colorado artifacts and has the ship’s bells that served first three USS Colorado’s and a replica of the bell currently in service on the submarine, a gift from the USS Colorado (BB45) Association.
On Tuesday, after driving to Fort Collins, the crew members were interviewed for thirty minutes on local radio station KCOL 600 AM by morning host Jimmy Lakey. They then split up into two groups and set out to visit a total of nine middle and high schools. The schools visited were Preston Middle School, Blevins Middle School, PSD Global Academy, Lesher Middle School, Rocky Mountain High School, PSD Global Academy, Fort Collins High School, Liberty Common High School, and Fort Collins High School. All together they spoke to about 650 students in Fort Collins who asked many questions about life on a submarine. After touring downtown Fort Collins, the sailors headed to Steamboat Springs for their Wednesday events.
They started Wednesday as guests of Steamboat Springs City Council for breakfast and then gave a presentation to the Council who were intently interested in what the crew had to say. They then visited North Routt Charter School about twenty miles from Steamboat where they talked to about 150 students in grades 3 through 8 of the school. After stopping at Freshies Restaurant in Steamboat for lunch where they were hosted by the owner, they visited Steamboat middle school where they talked to 120 6th and 7th grade students. They also got to tour the town and visit the local rodeo grounds and ski areas. The sailors were then hosted to dinner at the town’s combined VFW/American Legion Post. They were then hosted at Steamboat Whiskey Distillers for after-dinner refreshments by the owner, a former Navy Seal. The visit was covered in the local Steamboat Pilot newspaper and given front page coverage. Considering that Steamboat Springs is a community of only 12,000 they cut a wide swath. They were often stopped on the street by persons recognizing them because of the news coverage and given spontaneous gift donuts by the Owner of Powder Day Donut shop.
On Thursday they were hosted for breakfast by the Steamboat Springs Chamber of Commerce, and made a presentation to the Board before heading to DIA to catch their flight back to Groton. The visit to Steamboat provided the crew members an opportunity to see some of Colorado’s beautiful mountain scenery
Once again, the visit by the crew member proved to be a great success. All the students at their school presentations were interested and asked incisive questions which the sailors answered in a highly professional manner. It gave those students a glimpse into life in the Navy and on a submarine and demonstrated the high caliber of sailors who serve in our Submarine Force today. It also gave the sailors a change to appreciate the support they receive from their namesake state and to observe the great natural beauty of Colorado.