Story by Petty Officer 2nd Class Lyle Wilkie
USS NEW YORK (LPD 21)
ATLANTIC OCEAN (NNS) – On the mess decks of a typical United States ship, you may see culinary specialists rushing to serve the latest meal. You might be greeted with stacks of trays waiting to be filled with the freshest salad ingredients from a buffet bar, or you might see tables with covers decorated with the ship’s crest.
However, the amphibious transport dock ship USS New York (LPD 21) is no ordinary ship. In addition to the typical ware, Sailors are met with large decorative spiders hanging from cobwebs and small ghosts flying overhead.
Sailors aboard New York recently decorated the mess decks during composite training unit exercise (COMPTUEX) to raise the morale of their shipmates while underway during the holiday.
“We got together as a collective team and decided that since we can’t spend Halloween with our families, we figured that spending it with the crew was the next best thing,” said Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Jamal Ortiz, a decorator.
The Sailors took it upon themselves to decorate the mess decks in an effort to remind the crew that they don’t have to be alone during Halloween.
“We decorated of course to boost the morale of the crew and a lot of people like the Halloween season as well,” said Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Sayda Cardenas, a decorator. “It doesn’t have to always be scary, so the cute little things make people smile. I’m sure it reminds them of a time when they had family around for Halloween.”
This especially boosted the morale of the Sailors and the Marines in supply department’s S-2 division.
“These decorations definitely brought a boost [in] morale in the S-2 division, said Lt j.g. Jason Cherres, the Food Service Officer (FSO) aboard the New York. “Being underway is hard enough. These decorations help my Sailors and Marines forget that for a little bit.”
While the Sailors and Marines of S-2 work day in and day out on those same mess decks, Sailors throughout the ship noticed how the decorations lifted the spirit of the rest of crew.
“The Halloween decorations got the ship in the spirit of Halloween,” said Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class Delaney Griffin, a New York Sailor. “It helped to boost the morale of the crew in the hard times of COMPTUEX. From what I have seen the decoration has brought out the competiveness in the crew to see who has the better decorations.”
Even the ship’s most senior enlisted Sailor took notice of the seasonal décor.
“The Halloween decorations on the mess decks are the perfect example of how a simple act can have a profound impact,” said Command Master Chief Ben Hodges. “Sailors and Marines get that little taste of home and normalcy that sometimes is hard to keep sight of while onboard. This makes it easier to get through the time away from their loved ones.”
New York is currently underway conducting a composite training unit exercise (COMPTUEX) as part of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group and 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
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