It shouldn’t be hard to spot the three gentlemen in striking, bright white Navy uniforms amidst this weekend’s Capital Lakefair festivities.
The crew members of the USS Olympia are here visiting their ship’s namesake city just in time for the 58th annual celebration.
The city of Olympia has had not one, but two, Navy ships named in its honor: the cruiser Olympia, a ship that served in the Spanish-American War and is now a floating museum in Philadelphia; and the current USS Olympia, a fast-attack submarine based in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
The visiting submariners are Cmdr. Thomas H. Shugart III, who was born in Augsburg, Germany, but raised in Houston; Master Chief Electronics Technician Roland R. Midgett Jr.; and Lt. j.g. Zachary A. Copes, Junior Officer of the Year, from Frisco, North Carolina.
Shugart explained how any ship that shares its name with a place feels a special connection with that place, as well as a sense of honor.
They are here to continue the relationship between the Navy and the Olympia community that began more than 32 years ago.
“We’re really excited to be here. We haven’t had a chance to visit for several years,” Shugart said.
State officials, including Secretary of State Kim Wyman, welcomed the crew members to town Thursday. Then they visited the Governor’s Mansion to see part of the old cruiser Olympia’s sterling silver, then visited the mayor, the new Olympia City Hall and the Port of Olympia.
They had never been to Lakefair before, but their visit was full of appearances at the festival, including at Saturday’s Lakefair Run, Kids’ Day and Grand Parade.
In fact, Shugart will be running the half marathon Lakefair Run, but said he is most excited for the Lakefair Grand Parade, during which he will be riding in a Model A antique car.
“I need to practice my wave,” he said, smiling and trying out a princess-like wave. The others laughed and joined in.
Copes and Midgett will be riding along in convertibles.
The USS Olympia itself is currently in Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard for maintenance.
Robert Terhune, Capital Lakefair military liaison and retired U.S. Navy captain, says he’s honored to escort them around town.
“I’m proud of our community and I want to show them the wonderful things the area has to offer,” Terhune said.
ABOUT THE USS OLYMPIA
The submarine was built by Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Co. in Virginia.
Its first commanding officer was Capt. William C. Hughes Jr., who chose the name “Olympia” over larger cities so he could establish a close, personal connection with the namesake city of his command.
Hughes visited Olympia and Capital Lakefair in 1983 and 1984, then the submarine was officially commissioned and visited the Port of Olympia in March 1986.
The sub measures 360 feet in length with a beam of 33 feet and is armed with torpedoes and tomahawk missiles.
The emergency rudder control is an Olympia Beer tap handle that was presented to the submarine by the Olympia Brewing Co.