LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — If attendance is a measure of success, the first-ever Fleet Week held in Los Angeles is a hit.
CBS2’s Joy Benedict attended Sunday and talked to those eager to see the big ships and the meet the people who maintain them.
Thousands flooded the Port of Los Angeles for a glimpse of the world’s most elite naval vessels.
“It represents America. a big part of America,” says John Byrne.
He and his friends drove in from Riverside.
Tickets for the tours booked up weeks ago, so they stood in standby for hours. And they didn’t mind the wait.
“Because the attraction is fantastic. It’s our U.S. Navy showing us what they do and what they do it with,” he said.
On display, three active ships.
“We’ve got our sailors showing off our ships,” said Captain Dan Nowicki, executive officer of the SS America, an amphibious assault ship.
And he said, who better to give tours of the ship than the men and women who live on board, often out to sea for six weeks at a time.
“We have 1,200 sailors on board and we can embark 1,800 marines and their aircraft,” Nowicki said.
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“It was amazing,” said one woman.
But for many here, Fleet Week was more than just a chance to see big boats.
“Sometimes it brings back memories,” said one veteran.
In fact, many of the Fleet Week visitors have served in the military.
“I’d like to see what the new ships are looking like versus when I was on it,” said one.
“He was in the navy, I was in the marine corp., it’s all part of our heritage,” said Byrne.
Many of the veterans brought their wives, their children, their grandchildren.
“Hopefully one day they’ll have a chance to serve our country. I just wanted them to experience it,” said Alex Sims of Menifee. He added, “We’re trying to show pride for our country and the people that serve it.”
Benedict said that sentiment was displayed in the tiny flags and the giant ships and on the long lines of people looking to see the fleet. By standing in those lines, she reports, it was one way for the assembled to show those men and women who serve, that they matter.