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Sailors pack hangar hours before President Trump is to speak in Newport News

Virginian-Pilot - 3/2/2017


Hours before President Donald Trump was to arrive Thursday, thousands of workers and sailors already were crowded into a hangar bay of the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford at Newport News Shipbuilding.

Among them was Willie Hurdle, a submarine welder who didn't vote for Trump but says that doesn't matter now.

"I look at this as being history. It's a once-in-a-lifetime thing," said Hurdle, who is helping build Virginia-class nuclear submarines. "This is our president. I want to see the man and hear what he's got to say."

Standing nearby in the packed hangar was Kevin Huefner, a 12-year shipyard worker who was sporting a red Trump's "Make America Great Again" cap.

"I want to hear him say stuff about the military and how he's going to build it up," said Huefner, a retired Navy veteran.

The shipyard used a lottery system to decide which workers were admitted to the speech, just as it had done in 2013 when then-President Barack Obama spoke inside a hangar where submarines were assembled. Huefner and Hurdle remember seeing Obama.

Trump is set to arrive at the Ford shortly after 1 p.m. After a briefing and a tour, he is scheduled to address the workers and carrier crew about 2:30 p.m.

Among those traveling with Trump on Air Force One from Washington are two Republican Virginia congressmen: Reps. Scott Taylor of Virginia Beach and Rob Wittman of Westmoreland County.


(c)2017 The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, Va.)

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