By Capt. Todd Marzano Commanding Officer
Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) John F. Kennedy
During my time serving on board USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) while the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier was undergoing maintenance at Huntington Ingalls Industries-Newport News Shipbuilding, the keel of the future USS John F. Kennedy was laid. PCU John F. Kennedy has come a long ways since I first observed initial construction in the dry dock back in 2015 following the keel laying. At that point I had no idea I’d be fortunate enough to be the ship’s first commanding officer and I’m incredibly honored, humbled, and excited to be given the opportunity to lead such an amazing team of high quality crewmembers.
Upon reporting to PCU John F. Kennedy, I was given the honorable task of creating the ship’s seal. The design was a collaborative effort, with many valuable inputs from the crew. Each element of the seal is significant for its relevance to the ship’s namesake, naval service, and our great nation.
The 35 stars located throughout the outer ring of the seal represent the Honorable John F. Kennedy as the 35th president. The 35th star is positioned after his middle initial and the two gold stars between CVN and the number 79 symbolize this is the second aircraft carrier bearing his name. The first was CV-67, commissioned back on Sept. 7 1968, and served our nation for nearly 40 years.
The Roman numeral CIX (109) is a tribute to John F. Kennedy’s heroic naval service as the boat commander of PT-109 in the South Pacific during World War II. He displayed extraordinary courage, both in combat as a naval officer, and as President of the United States.
The bow on view of the ship advancing through the water reflects the enormous power of our Navy’s newest class of aircraft carrier, fully ready to support the needs of the nation.
President Kennedy’s image against the backdrop of the moon represents his bold vision to lead the space race. The importance of achieving this goal was highlighted during his speech at Rice University Sept. 12, 1962 when he said, “No nation which expects to be the leader of other nations can expect to stay behind in the race for space. For the eyes of the world now look into space, to the moon and to the planets beyond, and we have vowed that we shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and peace.”
Finally, the motto “SERVE WITH COURAGE” truly exemplifies President John F. Kennedy’s life. From the first day of his presidency, he challenged every American during his inauguration speech to “ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” He regarded serving one’s nation as an honor and held the utmost respect for those who did so with courage, especially when faced with adversity.
It was this passion that inspired President Kennedy to study and write about exceptional leaders throughout our nation’s history who served with courage, and it was the example set by these impressive individuals who helped mold him into one of our country’s most influential presidents. His powerful words spoken Jan. 20, 1961 during the inaugural address are just as applicable today, and when USS John F. Kennedy heads out to sea, the crew will “serve with courage” and take a great deal of pride and satisfaction knowing they are members of the United States Navy.