U.S. 6TH FLEET AREA OF RESPONSIBILITY
Story by Lance Cpl. Margaret Gale
USS IWO JIMA – Marines and Sailors with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit celebrate Thanksgiving aboard USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) Nov. 22, 2018. Food services provided a full thanksgiving meal and ceremonial cake cutting for the holiday.
While friends and family are preparing their Thanksgiving meals at home in the United States, Marine mess men with the 24th MEU and food service attendants with USS Iwo Jima began their food preparation for roughly 2,000 Marines and Sailors aboard the ship at 8 p.m. the evening prior to Thanksgiving by seasoning the turkeys. Preparation rolled over to the morning hours of Thanksgiving, until 10 a.m.
“What is extremely important to us in the military is that we have Marines and the Sailors aboard the ship and today gives them a chance to come together,” said Chief David Hargress, the leading culinary specialist aboard USS Iwo Jima. “The way we have the mess deck set up gives everyone a chance to sit around each other and interact with different Sailors and Marines and share their Thanksgiving stories, while we give them that ‘at home’ feel. We know that people can’t be home with their families for the holiday so it is extremely important to us to be able to give them that feeling through food. When they have the turkey and sides it gives them a little taste of home.”
The Thanksgiving meal included a total of 4,655 pounds of turkey, ham, Cornish hen and shrimp. The meal also included sweet potatoes, corn on the cob, 630 pounds of stuffing and a variety of other sides and traditional deserts.
“Coming down to the galley in the morning and smelling sweet aromas really reminded me of home,” said Cpl. Christopher Berry, a data systems administrator with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines. “It was a really nice sight being with Marines and Sailors combined to celebrate as a family this Thanksgiving.”
The USS Iwo Jima food services team hosted a traditional Thanksgiving cake cutting ceremony for the Marines and Soldiers aboard USS Iwo Jima to bring everyone together and give thanks. Seaman Jonathon Ortiz, a culinary specialist with USS Iwo Jima, spent two days constructing the cake with a base of traditional white cake, rice crispy treats and frosting.
“This is my first thanksgiving that I have spent away from home,” said Cpl. Jacob Lindsey, a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threat specialist with the 24th MEU. “However, instead of looking down on the situation, I think celebrating it with the Marines I work with is like spending time with my second family. Thanksgiving to me is about giving and being thankful for all of the selflessness that is given day in and day out. Most importantly, it is about everyone coming together under a single roof, understanding everyone’s differences, and being thankful that we have an opportunity to celebrate those differences.”