Local veteran gets ‘Leaders of the Sea’ experience

GLOVERSVILLE— After serving for 38 years of combined active and reserved service, Gloversville native COL David M. Cummings, U.S. Army Retired combat veteran, had a unique opportunity this past summer. Under the direction of the U.S. Navy, Cummings took part in the distinguished “Leaders of the Sea” over the summer, an experience that allows for people to see up close the mechanics of a day in the life of those who serve our country.

The Leaders of the Sea invites carefully chosen passengers to board the USS Abraham Lincoln, for one day, a day where they receive a first-hand look at life on board a surface ship. The Lincoln was rebuilt in Virginia and had it’s sea trials, out of Norfolk. It’s home port is now San Diego and remains in the Pacific on duty. Cummings said he flew out of Norfolk a couple hundred miles to begin his day in the Navy.

“It is a 24-hour experience that invites civilians in, and up close,” said Cummings.

The Leaders of The Sea program is designed for people who are positively influencing businesses or government in their community. Cummings’ involvement in the VBC made him a candidate for being chosen as someone who has continued to offer service, and in particular to those who have served our country. Participants of the program include presidents or chief executive officers, college deans, influential civic and community leaders, government officials, and leaders of broad-based organizations.

Cummings was chosen for the trip, not only because of his Army background, but also because of his post-retirement service to veterans. He is an active volunteer for the Veterans Business Council out of Saratoga Council. The group provides support for veterans of the United States of America armed services who are the owners or operators of active businesses, by providing them with opportunities to network with other veterans involved with community businesses.

Cummings said he was not the only one chosen with ties to Gloversville. He was joined by Saratoga Springs Mayor Meg Kelly, whose husband is Judge Doug Mills, also a Gloversville native, and they boarded the ship not knowing quite what to expect. Cummings said the trip was inspirational, and left him with a great sense of pride for all those who work to protect our country.

“There were dozens of distinguished visitors, it was unbelievable,” said Cummings.

Part of the 24 hours included boarding a recently refurbished carrier where the crew performed shake-down activities to prepare for deployment. The visitors take part in tours and interactions with the crew, whose average age is 20 years, five months.

“They are superbly trained and prepared to carry out their mission,” said Cummings.

The Lincoln’s Captain Commanding Officer was trained in Saratoga, something Cummings automatically connected to. Before reaching the naval aircraft in Florida, the group was flown on an aircraft carrier via a Grumman C-2, a cargo plane designed to carry supplies and passengers to and from carriers. They then spent more than 24 hours onboard watching fighter jets taking off and landing from where they were on deck only 30 to 50 feet away. They also viewed a live gun fire training exercise, and took informative tours of areas of the ship. Upon leaving, the catapult system propelled their plane from zero to 140 mph in two seconds, all part of bringing the experience to life.

“There is so much that goes into something like this. The crew was so impressive,” said Cummings.

Cummings said he grew up in what was known as the Kingsborough Indian side of Gloversville, where he still maintains connections. Today he and his wife are doing what they love, running a thoroughbred farm in Schuylerville.

By Josh Bovee

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