CBS announced this week that a new Star Trek TV series will be to television in 2017, just in time for Star Trek’s 50th anniversary. Now, I have lived my life vicariously through the evolution of Star Trek, as both a franchise and a way of life, so this means a lot to me.
Gene Roddenberry will always be a personal hero of mine. Here is a man who dedicated his life to one idea about space, mankind and exploration of the unknown. He crossed racial and cultural boundaries when the world was fighting against it. He was one of those, you can definitely say, that was ahead of his time.
I remember watching Star Trek in syndication as a young boy in the 70s. I was equally excited when Star Trek: The Motion Picture came out. The movie was long and relied too much on special effects, but it was stunning to see.
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan came out when I was in college. I spent and entire Saturday, sitting through one screening after another. Back in those days, you could stay in the theater and watch the movies over and over again. I saw Wrath of Khan five times that day. It was awesome.
I could go on about my love affair with Star Trek, from the new string of TV shows to the movies with the original cast and TNG stars (Star Trek:The Next Generation for you non-Trekkies). The real story I want to share with you is about my connection with the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise and the Star Trek: Enterprise TV series.
In 2001, I was stationed aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65). I was the Assistant Public Affairs Officer, responsible for keeping the crew informed about news and events while deployed, and informing the public about the ship and its great crew. Right before our deployment, I heard about the new series Star Trek: Enterprise. I wanted to try to make a connection between the series and the carrier, so I started corresponding with the publicist for Paramount Studios.
We were discussing a variety of options and agreed to get together once we returned from deployment in October 2001. Unfortunately, things didn’t go quite that way. The ship had just left the Persian Gulf when the United States was attacked on September 11, 2001.
We immediately turned around and took position on station, awaiting orders for the first stacks against Al Queda and their allies in the Taliban. It was then I received an email from the publicist at Paramount asking if there was anything she could do for us.
They sent us episodes of the first season of Enterprise and, in return, I sent them USS Enterprise command ball caps. The day we returned from deployment, Enterprise was airing that night, and the show opened with the star, Scott Bakula, wearing our ship’s ball cap, welcoming us home. That was unreal, a real PR coup for me, but it was about to get better.
Paramount offered three of our sailors walk on roles on an upcoming episode of Enterprise. This was a great opportunity for us to highlight our brightest and best, so we took our Sailors of the Year to California for a true Hollywood treatment.
We met the stars of the show, walked around the sets, got to sit in the Captain’s chair on the bridge set and photos with the cast. Levar Burton (Jeordi LaForge from TNG) was the director for the episode, so meeting him was a dream come true for me. In addition, I gave him my USS Enterprise ball cap in exchange for an Enterprise Stuntman’s ball cap.
We did this for two years in a row and it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. I also have to say Scott Bakula was so good to our sailors. He went out of his way to make sure they were in the shots, talked to us about everything, even signed autographs and photos. The one regret I have is I was never able to get him out on the carrier for a visit. Our schedules just never synced up.
It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. The artwork and signed photos from the cast and crew are with me today as a reminder of that visit. The only way to end this blog is by saying, “Live Long and Prosper!”