USS PELELIU, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors and Marines aboard USS Peleliu (LHA 5) recently welcomed aboard Jeff Bacon, Navy Times cartoonist and creator of the "Broadside" cartoons seen in that publication for decades.
Bacon embarked the ship and lived and worked among the crew from March 12 to 19 as part of an annual trip he makes to refresh his memories of Navy and Marine Corps life at sea.
"You know, after a while, it's the little things that you tend to forget what they look like," said Bacon. "Things like cranials, flight deck trucks, and wire cable runs. You mess up something like what a piece of gear looks like in a cartoon seen by so many people, and someone's bound to notice."
The cartoonist retired a few years ago from active service in the Navy and said he considers these annual trips vital to keeping his cartoons fresh and relevant to the life and labors of the Sailors and Marines who read the Navy Times and Marine Corps Times.
Bacon said his week aboard also showed him a crew that had high morale despite back to back deployments three years in a row, and sings of what he described as a "very healthy organization."
"I've noticed virtually everywhere more seasoned Sailors (first class petty officers and chiefs) standing behind their younger supervisors," said Bacon. "The seniors let the younger Sailors develop their leadership through supervising day to day operations within a work center. That shows me an organization growing from within; someone is doing something right here."
Bacon's visit brought out the ship's many Broadside admirers, and he agreed to autograph many fans' cartoon collections during his visit.
Culinary Specialist 1st Class (SW) Aaron Dow said he has been a fan since before he was in the Navy.
"My dad was in the Navy and I used to read Navy Times just so I could see Broadside," said Dow. "I thought it was funny, but after I joined and understood what each cartoon meant, it really made me laugh."
Peleliu's Bluejacket of the Year (BJOY) said her experiences with Bacon during the week were "overwhelmingly joyful."
"He is such a happy, peppy person to be around," said Seaman (SW) Heyliana Primera, Peleliu's BJOY. "He is wonderful to talk to and he seems very sincere and genuine. He even drew me a personal cartoon to congratulate my selection (as BJOY)."
Bacon was invited to eat in the wardroom, chiefs mess, and general mess, and he even volunteered to perform food service attendant duties on more than one occasion.
Dow said since he'd been a fan for so long, he was really hoping to meet Bacon when he arrived on board during its recent Expeditionary Strike Group integration exercises.
"I came into the office to start my (night) watch, and there was this guy standing in my office. My chief and the guy were both smiling at me and I began to wonder immediately what they were up to," said Dow. "But then Jeff introduced himself and I just felt star struck."
Dow said he got to spend a few minutes of one-on-one time with Bacon to swap sea stories and ideas for the cartoon.
"I'm glad to have had the chance to meet him," said Dow. "He's a hell of a guy."
For more news from USS Peleliu, visit www.navy.mil/local/lha5/.