For a Roslyn native, it was a homecoming like no other.
This past week, the city of New York hosted its annual Fleet Week festivities. A major attraction of the popular event was the appearance of the USS Kearsarge, the aircraft carrier whose executive officer is Roslyn Heights native, Captain James Gregorski.
Indeed, the Kearsarge was the Flag Ship of this year's Fleet Week. During its time in New York, it was stationed next to the USS Intrepid, the popular World War II-era aircraft carrier whose permanent home is the West Side docks.
"It's been fabulous," Captain Gregorski said of the Fleet Week festivities. "New York City has been like a community to our crew. The way New York has welcomed our sailors into their shops, stores, and restaurants has been amazing. Ten percent of our crew are New Yorkers and people can be proud of their service." On Sunday, May 28 alone, Kearsarge welcomed 9,000 visitors to its environs.
Thousands of Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen from U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard and international navy ships participated in Fleet Week New York City 2006, which took place from May 24 to May 31.
Hosted nearly every year since 1984, Fleet Week New York is the city's celebration of the sea services. The event provides an opportunity for the citizens of New York City and the surrounding Tri-State area to meet Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen, as well as witness firsthand the latest capabilities of today's maritime services.
The week featured several Marine Corps helicopter demonstrations and public concerts, plus flight simulators, environmental and technological displays. There was also a salute to the ships at The Bluff at Fort Hamilton and a Parade of Ships up the Hudson River. A Blessing of the Fleet took place at the Homeport Pier in Staten Island.
In addition to the Kearsarge, the other ships participating in Fleet Week included the USS Anzio, USS Ramage, USS Mason, HMS Scott, USCGC Sturgeon Bay, and USCGC Seneca, all of which were also docked on the West Side. Staten Island's Stapleton Pier was the Fleet Week home to the USS Shreveport, USS Nitze, USS San Antonio, and USS Klakring.
The USS Kearsarge's principal mission is the embarkation, deployment, landing and support of a Marine landing force anywhere in the world. Serving as an Expeditionary Strike Group flagship, Kearsarge commands and supports elements of a Marine Expeditionary Unit, in an assault by air and sea as well as command and support of all ships and submarines of the Expeditionary Strike Group.
In carrying out its primary mission, the 844 foot long, 40,500 ton Kearsarge will transport and land ashore not only troops, but also the tanks, trucks, other vehicles, artillery, ammunition and other supplies necessary to fully support the assault. The assault support system aboard ship coordinates horizontal and vertical movement of troops, cargo and vehicles.
Captain Gregorski is, as noted, the Kearsarge's executive officer. In January 2007, Captain Gregorski is set to take command of the entire ship. The son of Charles and Jennie Gregorski of Roslyn Heights, and a 1975 graduate of Roslyn High School, Captain Gregorski attended Western Michigan University graduating with a bachelor of science degree in business administration. He was commissioned in December 1982 and earned his Naval Aviator Wings of Gold in July 1985.
In September 2001, Captain Gregorski reported to the USS John F. Kennedy as executive officer. Shortly after reporting, he developed and was later instrumental in executing an emergent repair and two-phase complex carrier overhaul plan. These programs returned JFK to full combat ready status for two deployments and will extend JFK service well into the 21st century.
During his tour the Kennedy steamed more than 77,000 nautical miles on an extended deployment and launched countless strike sorties in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Captain Gregorski has accumulated over 3,200 flight hours and 450 aircraft carrier arrested landings. His personal decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, four Navy Commendation Medals and the Navy Achievement Medal. He is married to the former Lorraine Czyzyk of New Hyde Park. The Gregorskis reside in Orange Park, FL, with their son, Charlie, and daughter, Janie.