Bette Song Sung On The USS Kittyhawk

MWR event on Kitty Hawk features karaoke, pizza, ice cream
By Kendra Helmer, Stars and Stripes
European edition, Monday, March 24, 2003

ABOARD THE USS KITTY HAWK — As bombs and missiles crowded one mess deck, sailors belting out tunes crowded another.

War faces became animated and chiefs chilled out with junior sailors during karaoke night Saturday on the USS Kitty Hawk.

The music ranged from Frank Sinatra to Vanilla Ice, with some George Strait thrown in by some country boys.

Airman Michael Benavidez got the crowd cheering and chortling as he pumped his fist into the air, singing Aerosmith-style to “Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.”

“I’m missing my kids back home,” he said.

A couple of hundred sailors squeezed into the eating area and passageways, bobbing their heads in a welcome break from the ramped-up workload. The aircraft carrier’s 5,500 sailors haven’t set foot on land since leaving Yokosuka, Japan, two months ago.

For a few hours, rank didn’t matter.

Petty Officer Shaun Brooks slipped on shades and paired up with Senior Chief Petty Officer Darius Johnson. The two snapped fingers while singing Billy Joel’s “The Longest Time.”

“At times like this, you can interact with them so you don’t have to be scared of them later,” Brooks said.

Johnson, the carrier’s chief investigator, stepped up to the microphone several times. A few sailors who were giving an off-key singer a hard time shut up when Johnson jumped up and put his arm around his new partner.

If anyone was recording the event, they’d be hard-pressed to come up with a CD title. Some sailors went for the laugh factor with Barry White and Jimmy Buffett, while others crooned Frank Sinatra and Mary J. Blige.

No matter the genre, all the singers played it up for the crowd with gestures and dance moves.

“This is karaoke/comedy hour,” one chief laughed as a sailor sang “Ice, Ice, Baby” and goofed around with ’80s moves.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Trina Johnson sang Bette Midler’s “From a Distance.”

She said she hadn’t thought about the irony of the line, “From a distance I just cannot comprehend what all this fighting is for.”

“I’m comfortable with us being out here to help free the Iraqis,” she said, favoring the line, “God is watching us.”

The event was a morale booster to give sailors something to do, said organizer Laura Poteat, director of Morale, Welfare and Recreation.

Karaoke night was “a strange happening all together, knowing there’s a war going on outside,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Lisa Pepera, 26.

The music wasn’t the only thing drawing sailors to the mess decks. The line for ice cream and pizza throughout the event was a good 50 sailors long.

Airman Steve Schommer, his face and clothes greasy, had a short break from his 16-hour shift chalking and chaining aircraft. He chatted with Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Palisoe, a boot camp buddy who got on the carrier three days ago.

Palisoe, 22, wasn’t shy; he got his groove on singing Santana’s “Smooth.”

“I figure it’s good to do it while they don’t know me,” he said with a laugh.

— Kendra Helmer is embedded with the USS Kitty Hawk.

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