Navy Week reaches out to Rhode Island

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Though Newport has the Naval War College, the Naval Justice School, and Naval Station Newport, the United States Navy wants to reach all of Rhode Island, and is bringing several events statewide to the first-ever Rhode Island “Navy Week.”

The event started on Memorial Day Monday, and is wrapping up with the Rhode Island National Guard Open House Air Show this coming weekend.

At the State House Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Gina Raimondo made an official declaration to kick off the week, as the Navy Leapfrogs parachutist team prepared to land on the State House lawn.

The Leapfrogs were also scheduled to parachute into the PawSox home game at McCoy Stadium Tuesday night.

While “Fleet Week” in cities like New York brings Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard servicemembers ashore primarily to play tourist — and it may include military demonstrations and tours of vessels — Navy Week is more based in outreach, to share what America’s Navy does.

“It’s a calling,” says Rear Admiral Robert Girrier of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. “It’s a great vocation. And so we go on the road, talk about the Navy, and what we do. It’s fun, quite frankly, to help spread that message.”

RAdm. Girrier is a URI grad, and his family lives here. He says the Navy is about the people who wear the uniform, ready for action at a moment’s notice. “When you get a chance to talk with some of the sailors this week throughout the state, I think you’re going to be really impressed with the stories they have to tell, and their professionalism. These folks really represent the very best that our Country has to offer,” he said.

Among the performances, the Blue Angels will be performing at the Air Show, and the Navy Band performs at URI Wednesday night, the opening ceremonies of the Special Olympics Friday night, and Scarborough Beach Sunday evening.

Though RAdm. Girrier says Rhode Island’s strong naval history is evident in places like Aquidneck Island, he says part of his goal this week is to make sure everyone in the state appreciates that connection.