PACIFIC OCEAN (NNS) -- Eight nationally-renowned cartoonists embarked the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) at sea Aug. 21 to share their artistic talents with the Sailors and Marines on board.
The cartoonists, in conjunction with the United Services Organization, spent the morning drawing cartoons for the crew as Bonhomme Richard returned to San Diego after completing its pre-deployment certification exercise.
According to the cartoonists, who are members of the National Cartoonists Society (NCS), it was their way of thanking and showing support to the men and women that serve the country.
"We know there is a high price for liberty and freedom," said Michael Ramirez, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winning editorial cartoonist from Investors Business Daily. "This is our small way to pay back the huge debt of keeping us free."
NCS began in 1946 when a few cartoonists traveled to hospitals and care facilities to draw for wounded World War II service members. Then, like now, their hope was to bring joy and comfort to service members, especially those in recovery.
There are now more than 100 cartoonists that make up the organization, including Jeffrey Bacon, a retired Navy captain and the creator of the Navy Times' "Broadside" and Marine Corps Times' "Greenside."
"Throughout the years NCS has existed, our only mission has been to give back," said Bacon. "We get to enjoy this great life, and it's all because of the Sailors, Marines, Airman and Soldiers who choose to fight for this country."
"It's probably more gratifying for us than for the Sailors and Marines aboard that we get to come out and do what we do," added Bacon.
The work of NCS cartoonists has stretched from military hospitals to platforms across the United States to as far as Germany.
The cartoonists aboard Bonhomme Richard expressed their desire to make a trip to Kuwait and Iraq in the near future.
"As our military continues to do their great work all over this world, we're willing to go where they are and take them a little taste of home," said Jeff Keane, the president of NCS and the creator of "Family Circus."
"Cartoonists are isolated, usually working from home," added Keane. "This allows us the opportunity to get out and see just what our military members do and show them that we appreciate all of their hard work and dedication in keeping our country free."
The group also included the creator of "Luann," Greg Evans, the creator of "B.C.," Mason Mastroianni and the creator of "Tundra," Chad Carpenter.
Bonhomme Richard Sailors and Marines took a break from work and sat on the mess deck with the cartoonists.
"The cartoonists really helped boost morale on the ship," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) Airman Apprentice Richard Williams. "We were able to sit down and take a break from work and enjoy the company of such talented artist. Their whole objective is to make people smile, and I saw nothing but smiles from everyone."
For more news from USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), visit www.navy.mil/local/lhd6/.