USS HARRY S. TRUMAN, At Sea (NNS) -- To deployed Sailors and Marines aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) getting care packages in the mail is a nice reminder that they are loved and remembered back home.
Girl Scouts from Troop 194, Service Unit 80-1, from Manassas, Va., are taking the time to take care of deployed service members with their own mission -Operation: Thin Mint (OTM).
The scouts participating in OTM have sent several care packages to Truman since the ship left their homeport of Norfolk, Va., May 21. The care packages include bookmarks, scripture verses, letters of support, and the Girl Scout trademark cookies.
"It's a good feeling to know that there are communities back home that care about and support the men and women of the U.S. military," said Information Systems Technician 1st Class (SW/AW) Randy Baliwas. "Being deployed is no easy task for us or our families. Receiving a care package from home brings a little bit of home with it, and smiles always fill the room."
OTM is boosting morale throughout Truman, and crew members realize that one box full of well-wishes can help them re-focus on their call to duty.
"It makes us remember why we're actually out here," said Lt. Erick Stroud, Truman's flight deck officer. "A lot of the Girl Scouts wrote letters saying, 'You're my hero,' and things of that nature, and it really motivated us to know that we are out here serving a purpose that is greater than just supporting our own family or getting the mission done. We're also making people happy across America, and the packages came at the right time to help us remember that."
Aviation Boatswain's Mate [Handling] 2nd Class (AW) Dervin Gardner received one of the packages on his birthday.
"It was very special to me, because that was the only package that came exactly on my birthday," said Gardner. "A girl sent a card that said, 'Hopefully you'll see your family soon.' It made me feel a little bit more appreciated because there are people out there who really care about what we do. That totally made my day."
Stroud had his own intentions to support OTM in return, and asked for service members who received packages to send 'thank you' letters back to the girls. The appreciative Sailors sent the scouts Truman water bottles, squadron and unit patches, coins and even photographs of their divisions.
For more news from USS Harry S. Truman, visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn75/.