Grateful about JAC package, Navy officer-FHS grad visits Pope’s fourth-graders

Endlessly curious about the adventures and challenges aboard a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, as told by a Farragut High School graduate’s personal experience, Lora Kay Pope’s fourth-grade class at Farragut Primary School grilled Petty Officer 3rd Class Kevin Mann.

Saying he’s “an aviation structural mechanic on safety equipment” aboard the USS Carl Vinson, Mann and his crew received a Junior American Citizens package from the class “while we were on deployment” in fall 2017.

The officer responded to the kind gesture by using leave time to visit Pope’s class, mainly answering a variety of the children’s questions, Wednesday, Dec. 6.

“I really do appreciate anything that you send to us — it’s a real morale booster when we’re out there,” otherwise eating food “that’s not very good,” said Mann, a 2009 FHS graduate who is stationed at Point Mugu [Ventura County], Calif.

Speaking of a deployment “out in the South China Sea,” Mann told the children about his job. “I make sure that the air crew can breathe and that [their cabin] is pressurized,” he said.

Asked by one student, “Has your boat been attacked?” Mann said, “No, not yet. I don’t think it ever will be,” adding aircraft carriers are protected by nearby “destroyers and all sorts of other boats out there. There’s submarines that are below us.

“Without us they have no air support.”

About an enemy possibly attempting to cut through and attack their carrier, Mann said, “I can’t see anybody in the world, any country that has that kind of firepower.”

Asked by a student about the carrier’s rate of movement, Mann said when the Carl Vinson is headed to a given destination, instead of just going in a straight line, “For us we just do these circles … because we want to do more training.

“When we go to Vietnam” in early 2018, “we’ll be doing like circles to it,” he added.

However, “We can get anywhere pretty quickly,” Mann said.

The class, which received an assignment from Pope to write a paper on what they learned from Mann’s visit, also greeted the officer with a decorated cake and a “Welcome to FIS” poster signed by Pope and her students.

Mann’s mother, Susan Mann, is a fifth-grade teacher at FIS.