5TH FLEET AREA OF RESPONSIBILITY --
Thanksgiving is a time for family and friends to come together and enjoy the festivities of the holiday season, while focusing on the things they are most grateful for.
On Nov. 27, Marines and Sailors aboard amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8), took the time to celebrate Thanksgiving at sea.
One of the difficulties of being on deployment is being away from family and friends for a long period of time with little to no contact. Petty Officer 3rd Class Jose Rodriguez, a gas turbine system technician mechanic aboard the Makin Island and North Arlington, N.J., native, misses his family more than ever during the holiday season.
“Usually right about now, my family would be going crazy trying to cook all the food and get it ready before the rest of my friends and family get to the house,” said Rodriguez. “It’s been tough out here at times but at least the ship does its best to kind of make us feel like a family.”
Culinary specialists with the Makin Island prepared a special, traditional Thanksgiving meal for all the Marines and Sailors, which required significantly more time and effort to prepare.
“It’s good that we get to do something special for everyone,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrea Buckahmjack, a culinary specialist aboard the Makin Island and Queens, N.Y., native. “I think this meal is less about the food itself and it’s more like a gesture of appreciation for the hard work we put in everyday.”
Personnel from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit enjoyed a full-fledged meal in the mess decks, interacting with one another and giving thanks.
“I wasn’t really expecting anything for the holidays this year,” said Cpl. Joshua Hamel, a data analyst with the 11th MEU, and Milford, New Hampshire native. “It was kind of nice to get a good cooked meal for Thanksgiving while everyone is away and all. I guess you can say that’s what I’m thankful for this year.”
Officers and staff non-commissioned officers served food to junior Marines and Sailors as a way of showing their gratitude for the hard work of their subordinates, and to celebrate the holiday with their troops. Marines, like Lance Cpl. Brayden Reynolds, a Marine Air Ground Task Force planner and New Orleans native, appreciated its meaning.
“I’ve only been in the Marine Corps for a year and some change, so I’ve always seen officers as these big bosses that you should never mess with or talk to unless addressed,” said Reynolds. “For me, days like today are what keep us going and for the officers and staff NCOs to do something like that is really cool."
Along with a delicious meal, activities like turkey bowling and a 5k run were coordinated on the ship to promote integration between the Marines and Sailors.
The 11th MEU is a rapid response force ready to execute operations and provide support when called upon. While the MEU maintain its readiness, personnel will not forget to celebrate the holidays and be there for one another while away from their loved ones.