By FC2 Katharyn Dembowski

USS Hué City (CG 66) Public Affairs

Sailors assigned to the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Hué City (CG 66) participated in a community service (COMSERV) project at the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery and Memorial in Nettuno, Italy, Aug. 8. 

The cemetery is the final resting place for 7,861 American service members who fought in the various campaigns associated with the liberation of Rome in World War II, and also serves as a memorial for 3,095 missing, lost, or buried at sea during the conflict.   

For Ensign John McAleer, participating in the event had special significance. McAleer's great uncle, U.S. Army Pvt. John Bernard McSherry, was killed in action Feb. 8, 1944 and laid to rest at the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery. 

 "Walking along the same beach and through the same town that my great uncle landed on, and gave his life for, is about as special of a gift as one can receive," said McAleer. "When we travel overseas, it's very easy to forget that American men and women stepped up to the call of duty, and died fighting over those grounds that we walk on, ensuring we could always do so freely."

Noting the impact of American fighting men and women, McAleer believes the sacrifices made in his great uncle's generation allows us many of the freedoms enjoyed today.  

"It's a sobering thought; that a 20-something year-old never went home so we could all have the opportunity to walk through Rome, northern France, Mexico City, Panama, the Philippines, and elsewhere without fear," said McAleer. "Visiting sites like these is a simple, though significant, tribute to those who are still there and to our joint heritage as Americans." 

Commanding Officer Capt. Dan Gillen and 32 other Hué City Sailors participated in the event.  

"I felt deeply honored to be amongst such brave men and women" said Gillen, "They paid the ultimate sacrifice to fight the evil that had enveloped the world back then.  Every American should have the opportunity to pay their respects at these important sites."