The United States Navy, baseball, and Independence Day weekend - a bit of Americana at Dehler Park in Billings.
The USS Billings was commissioned in Key West, Florida, on August 2, 2019, and on Friday evening, five crew members from the ship threw out honorary first pitches before the Billings Mustangs game with the Great Falls Voyagers.
Before the game, the sailors and the Friends of the U.S.S. Billings held a ceremony at the seat in center field to honor prisoners of war and those missing in action.
"Anytime we get an opportunity to recognize those who have gone before us, it's a special opportunity," said Commander Jeffrey Gerring of the U.S.S. Billings. "Not all of our sailors and Marines come back from the missions they go on. Being able to come out here and represent them and give our support for them is really special to us. I was stationed here in 2010, I was the (commanding offficer) with the Reserve Center over on Gabel Road. "
"My wife's here with me and we're kind of driving around, all our local haunts. And so to be able to come back to the city, and see it again, it's amazing. The people here are warm and friendly and probably the most hospitable down to earth people I've ever met in my life so it's really great to be here," he said.
The crew arrived Thursday and plans to see the Beartooth Highway and the Home of Champions Rodeo in Red Lodge.
About the USS Billings (website):
LCS 15 is the eighth Freedom-variant LCS designed and built by the Lockheed Martin-led industry team. The Freedom-variant LCS integrates new technology and capability to affordably support current and future mission capability from deep water to the littorals. LCS is a highly maneuverable, lethal and adaptable ship, designed to support focused missions including mine countermeasures, anti-submarine warfare and surface warfare missions.
The Freedom-variant LCS integrates new technology and capability to affordably support current and future mission capability from deep water to the littorals. She is the first ship in naval service named after Billings, Montana. Billings is the largest city in the U.S. state of Montana. The city of Billings was nicknamed the "Magic City" because of its rapid growth from its founding as a railroad town in March 1882. The ship has adopted the city's nickname as well; "Magic City."
Photo of the USS Billings: