I had the privilege of taking part in a conference call today with USS Ronald Reagan commanding officer Capt. Thom Burke. He talked with a group of reporters from where the aircraft carrier is now stationed in the Western Pacific ocean.
As you know, the Reagan spent roughly three weeks off the coast of Japan participating in Operation Tomodachi - providing food, water, medicine, and clothing to those devastated by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Captain Burke said he personally visited areas wiped out by the tsunami, and described it as a panorama of destruction.
Burke also said the radioactive dust that contaminated the Reagan early on in its mission was more of a problem for the ship's equipment than the health of the crew. He said he told his sailors if they were really worried about their health, they should quit smoking.
Burke says the aircraft carrier will remain on its deployment in the Western Pacific, and likely won't return to San Diego until Autumn. But he wanted to make sure all family members of the Reagan crew knew how much they are missed.