Petty Officer Wesley Price attends celebration aboard USS Cole in Florida

from staff reports

  
USS Cole (DDG 67) made its first appearance at Fort Lauderdale's Fleet Week USA 2003 after undergoing a 14-month reconstruction. Petty Officer 3rd Class Wesley Price, son of Dennis Hardin of Elizabethton, attended the celebration with his 300 fellow Sailors on board the USS Cole at Port Everglades.
   Fleet Week provides visitors a glimpse into the lives of the Sailors of the five Navy Warships that were on display to the public. The celebration also gives the 300 Sailors on board the USS Cole the chance to relax and enjoy the week filled with special events, such as intership baseball, a beach barbecue, Damage Control Olympics Competitions and many other events. "The welcome from the community was exciting - it's appreciation that we just don't get every day," said Price.
   Special groups were allowed to tour the 505-foot long Aegis-guided missile destroyer with the USS Cole crew. Visitors were given the rare opportunity to see what life is like for the Sailors and how vital the crew is to the ships missions. "We all work very hard at our jobs," said Price, a fire controlman. "Being on a small ship makes us like a family. You'll never fully know what a Sailor does unless you are one."
   Price enlisted in January 2000 to carry on a family tradition and to better plan for the future. "My grandfather is a retired naval aviation commander, so the Navy has a sense of heritage and tradition to me, said Price. "I also joined because I promised my girlfriend as soon as we could move out on our own I would ask her to marry me. She's been my wife for three-and-a-half years and now we have two children together."
   The USS Cole will deploy this fall as part of the USS Enterprise Battle Group.