Although only in elementary school when the attacks on the Twin Towers occurred, Tracy Grim recognizes the important role the events of September 11th played on New Yorkers and Americans as a whole.
Now, sixteen years later, Ensign Grim, of Cutchogue, is reminded of and inspired by it everyday.
An ordinance officer serving in the United States Navy, she has been stationed on USS New York for the past 15 months — a ship that has 7.5 tons of melted steel from the World Trade Center built into its hull.
“It’s really special to be on a ship carrying so much pride and carrying something that pretty much our whole country believes in: fighting for our freedom because of what happened on 9/11,” Ensign Grim said. “That’s really special.”
The Navy said the hull of the ship — longer than two football fields at 684 feet – is 105 feet wide and weighs more than 24,000 tons and represents the strength and determination of the American people, who “recover, rally and take fight to the enemy and honor the memory of those who were affected by the attacks.”
Named for the State of New York, the ship is adorned with other representations of Ensign Grim’s home state.
She said the cafeteria, or mess deck, is divided into thirds, with each section named after one of New York’s National Football teams — the Bills, the Giants and the Jets. New York Mets and Yankees symbols decorate the ship’s well deck, and a painting of the Twin Towers graces the hangar bay door.
“It has so much New York pride,” she said. “And being from New York and going on a tour of the ship before I even chose it, me as well as my parents were just so moved by the pride and how much importance this ship holds to the country.”
Ensign Grim said it’s the perfect place to continue her career, which began when she a student at Mattituck High School participating in its Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps program.
“Throughout high school in the NJROTC program, I enjoyed the morale of the program, the organization, the commitment,” she said. “It really helped me develop life skills. Everything kind of fell into place for me and it was something I was passionate about.”
Following graduation in 2012, she received a scholarship paid for by the Navy to attend Villanova University in Pennsylvania. She graduated in 2016 and was commissioned into the Navy as an officer.
Ensign Grim now works as an ordnance officer. This means she’s in charge of the ammunition and guns kept on the ship, ranging from 9mm pistols all the way up to missiles the ship carries.
Docked in Mayport, Florida, the crew aboard the USS New York is aiding with humanitarian efforts to help those affected by Hurricane Irma. Ensign Grim called the work — which includes collecting water, food and medical supplies that will be taken to places such as the Caribbean affected by the hurricane — some of “the most rewarding work we can do.”
She said her favorite part of being on USS New York is the pride all the sailors feel about the work they’re doing and the ship they’re on, which propels them to exceed expectations set for them on inspections and certifications.
“This is a ship all sailors want to be on,” she said. “The morale is great. The leadership that I have above me is great … Everyone I work with is just so proud to be part of the crew of the USS New York.”
Photo: Ensign Tracy Grim aboard the USS New York. (Courtesy of: Mass Communications Specialist 1st Class Robert Zahn)