The Executive Officer of USS NORTH DAKOTA (SSN-784) Lieutenant Commander Cameron Aljilani and the 2015 Sailor of the Year for our boat Machinist Mate 1st Class Wesley Evers arrived in North Dakota for a namesake visit on Sunday, November 29th. That afternoon they had a brief tour of the North Dakota Heritage Center including a stop to view the silver from the 1st USS NORTH DAKOTA (BB-29), and a driving tour of part of Bismarck followed by a trip to Fort Lincoln State Park with a hike up to the blockhouses. It was a clear day and Petty Officer Evers said he had never been able to see that far. They were able to spend time at a party at the home of Bill Butcher, the Vice Chairman of our USSND Committee, and his wife Dina as they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.
On that Monday morning we all rode to Williston via Minot in fog until about 30 miles east of Williston where LCDR Aljilani and MM1 Evers could finally see the expansive prairie. They joined me to speak at the Williston Rotary Club at noon and they both did an excellent job. They met a great supporter of our boat after lunch, Steve Slocum, who joined us on an excellent tour he arranged for us of the new Williston Area Recreation Center, and he took us all out to dinner that evening.
Before the Rotary Club meeting a reporter and cameraman drove over from Minot to interview them for the KXMC evening news.
Here is a link to that story:
On Tuesday morning we visited with the Military Affairs Committee of the Williston Chamber of Commerce. The MAC Chairman is on the left and the Chamber President is on the right.
We then visited the Williston Herald where they were interviewed, followed by lunch with the Williston Lions Club where they spoke.
After lunch they were interviewed on KEYZ 660 AM Radio.
That evening they spoke to the Williston Chapter of the American Petroleum Institute (API). The North Dakota ESGR Committee sponsored the API dinner meeting which was arranged by Shirley Olgeirson and Pam Miller of the ND ESGR Staff. I spoke to the API and Cameron and Wesley spoke as well. They presented the API with a Ship’s plaque in recognition of the support API had given our boat.
On Wednesday morning our faithful driver Brad Lykken drove us through the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park before we attended a special of the Watford City Chamber of Commerce and the American Legion.
We were fortunate not only to see lots of bison and deer, but also a herd of big horn sheep. You can see some bison by Wesley’s right shoulder.
At the Watford City luncheon the XO and Sailor of the Year gave an excellent briefing. The XO presented a Ship’s plaque to the Watford City American Legion which was accepted by McKenzie County Veterans Service Officer Navy retired Senior Chief Petty Officer Jerry Samuelson, a submarine sailor.
Finally on Wednesday evening Cameron and Wesley spoke to a dinner meeting of the North Dakota Council of the Navy League of the United States. They presented the Navy League a Ship’s plaque and a framed photo.
Bob Wefald presented the crew a Pride of Dakota cribbage board.
I don’t know about them, but I was pretty tired by the time they left after a great visit to northwest North Dakota!