October 25, 2023

Instagramming Ike: Social Driver CEO Explores Life Aboard the USS Eisenhower

Boosting Morale and Capturing Heroic Moments For the 'Gram: A Journey Aboard the USS Eisenhower

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As CEO of Social Driver, I have some pretty exciting moments. But none compare to being shot from 0 to 125 mph in 2 seconds from a powered catapult. This was no ordinary assignment. I was on a once-in-a-lifetime voyage to the “best damn ship in the Navy” — the USS Eisenhower. 

As a board member of the Eisenhower Foundation, I get to work to honor Ike's legacy of leadership. When the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group deployed on October 14th for a sensitive mission in the Mediterranean, the CO wanted us to continue our trip because he hoped our delegation could boost morale and connect with sailors during their extended deployment. It was an honor to present two prestigious Eisenhower awards to outstanding crew members. We also spent time speaking with many sailors to offer encouragement and inspiration for their months away from home. 

I found out a few weeks ago that I’d be going on this trip and I was thrilled to get an inside look at life on the aircraft carrier. In preparation for our visit, I followed their official Instagram account to get a glimpse of daily operations. Scrolling through photos of catapult takeoffs, flight deck action shots, and crew at work, I wondered who was behind the camera.

The USS Eisenhower deployed on their latest mission from Norfolk, Virginia on October 14th, which coincidentally was President Eisenhower's birthday. 

Our delegation of 8 boarded a C-2A Greyhound in Norfolk for the exhilarating flight out to the carrier. Catching the tailhook upon landing on the 500-foot runway was a smoother experience than the catapult takeoff we’d experience the next afternoon.

From the moment we landed on the Ike, I made it my mission to find the Instagrammer-in-chief. I must have asked over a dozen sailors, “Do you run the Instagram account?” as we toured the ship. Most just smiled and said no, amused by my persistence.

Aboard, we met with the Commanding Officer who oversees the 5000+ person crew and state-of-the-art warship. This highly trained team operates round the clock to launch, recover, and service the 75+ aircraft this floating city can hold.

The crew gave us a VIP tour of areas most never see like the brig, chapel, engine rooms, and the huge anchor room below deck. We watched in awe as F-18s and E-2C Hawkeyes took off and landed both day and night. Our overnight stay right below the flight deck gave us a taste of the cramped quarters where these sailors sleep and unwind. The constant roar of jet engines is something you never get used to.

After seeing all of this, I feared I’d never track down the Instagrammer. Then on our last day, as we watched jets from the hangar, I spotted a sailor with an iPhone. “Do you run the Instagram account?” I called out. “Yes sir, I do!” 

Meet Mo Bourdi, the talented sailor who captures life at sea for the ship’s official Instagram account. Mo shook my hand and thanked me for following their account. He explained how social media allows him to share a window into their duty and honor in serving our country. The power of an image can connect people who are oceans apart. The same app that entertains us at home, serves a greater purpose for Mo.

A ceremony honoring the ship's 46th birthday coincided with our departure on October 18th. I left with immense gratitude and pride for the brave sailors aboard the USS Eisenhower. 

Before departing the Eisenhower, I told Mo how much I admired his work. He’s just one of thousands of the many people tirelessly serving and sacrificing to allow us to enjoy our freedoms—many of which I’ll never meet but I’m so glad I got to meet Mo. I’d like to thank the full crew of the USS Eisenhower for their warm hospitality, even as they face an uncertain deployment.