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Crew of USS Portland prepares for weekend commissioning

KATU News photo

Officials are expecting more than 5,000 people to attend the official commissioning of the USS Portland at 10 a.m. Saturday at Terminal 2.

The 700-foot ship is named after the Rose City, and in different corners of it, you'll find pieces of Portland.

Rooms are named after landmarks like Providence Park, the medical area is called Pill Hill and the control center is Bull Run.

The commissioning ceremony also provides a homecoming for around 20 sailors and marines from the Pacific Northwest.

"I actually choose to be on this ship, I was like USS Portland? Does that mean it's from Portland, Maine or Portland, Oregon?" joked First Class Petty Officer Brian Hoeger.

Hoeger grew up in Portland's Pearl District, before moving to Astoria, then graduating from high school in Hood River. The Oregon native also worked as a recruitment officer in Yamhill County.

"I've been all over," Hoeger said.

He works as an electronics technician, and is happy to be back to Portland for the first time in a decade.

"I'm looking forward to checking out the area a little bit more because everything has changed around here," Hoeger said.

There was a sense of pride for Navy veteran Stephen Phillips as he moved through the ship's tight quarters and got a peek in to all the technology on board.

"It's just a whole new level," Phillips said. "Those guys have toys that they don't probably really appreciate."

Phillips is the president of the American Legion out of Estacada and says his fellow veterans are very excited to have the USS Portland in town.

"It's awesome, it brings back so many memories," Phillips said.

About 2,000 people have toured the ship, and one of them hopes to make a habit of hanging out on Naval ships. 12-year-old Rock Thornton was ecstatic to have his photo taken with the sailors and marine of the ship.

"It's really amazing," Thornton said. "I want to be in the military."

He has some years until he can enlist, but as he was getting the tour, the kid with dreams of being a pilot in the Navy got a clearer picture of his future.

"Very good, 20-20," he said when asked about his vision.



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