USS RONALD REAGAN, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors aboard USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) gathered on the flight deck early in the morning March 23 to celebrate Easter with a special sunrise church service.
The service took place during a short break in the ship's schedule as the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group continues with a Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) off the coast of Southern California.
Cmdr. Lee Axtell, Ronald Reagan's command chaplain, delivered the Christian service that began at 6:45 a.m.
"While our families are worshiping back home, we can still do it here or anywhere in the world," Axtell told the officers and crew who attended the service.
Lt. Michael Phillips, staff chaplain for Carrier Air Wing 14, said that it's important to remember that even though Sailors are out to sea they still get to celebrate Easter service.
"This is their church family," said Phillips referring to the Sailors who attended the event. "They were allowed to worship with their Navy family."
Sailors aboard Ronald Reagan said they really enjoyed the unique Easter service.
"It was a great chance to get outside and see the sunrise, hear a wonderful service and songs," said Cryptologic Technician (Collection) 1st Class (SW/AW) Jeremy Turnbull, who is part of the Commander, Strike Force Training Pacific team currently evaluating Ronald Reagan during COMPTUEX.
Turnbull said this is his first time aboard an aircraft carrier and the service was a memorable experience that he will share with others for years to come.
According to Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Equipment) Airman Abram Freeman, who also attended, the message of the sermon was the best part of the sunrise service.
"It gave me a lot to think about," said Freeman. "It was nice being able to have a service, even though we're out to sea. I liked seeing officers and enlisted shipmates up on the flight deck sharing in the fellowship of religious service."
Ronald Reagan observed a no-fly day to coincide with Easter, allowing the crew the opportunity to participate in a variety of religious services offered throughout the day.
According to Axtell, the department heads and chiefs were very supportive of the crew by allowing them time off from their normal duties to attend services.
"Crew members will be able to tell their family about today's service for years to come," said Axtell. "They will always remember today."
For more news from USS Ronald Reagan, visit www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn76/.