GULF OF ADEN (NNS) -- Sailors and Marines enjoyed fresh smoothies at the grand opening ceremony the "Black Sands Cafe" aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) last week.
The smoothie bar was built across from the ship's store as a morale booster for Sailors and Marines to enjoy during deployment.
"It's huge for morale," said Senior Chief Ship's Serviceman (SW/AW) Paul Kapusta, supply department leading chief petty officer from Ridgecrest, California. "Without morale you aren't an effective unit. As a ship's serviceman, morale is very important to me so the opportunity to bring such a unique service to the ship is very exciting."
The four founders of the "Black Sands Cafe" are Sgt. Brandon Janschek, from Waleorf, Maryland, Cpl. Jamie Cuff from Auburn, New York, Lance Cpl. Justin Shifflett from Ruckersville, Virgina, and Lance Cpl. Christopher Dailey, from Cookeville, Tennessee.
"I enjoy working at the smoothie bar to raise morale for Marines and Sailors and I enjoy putting a smile on my customer's face," said Cuff. "If I can make them happy, my day is a success."
Capt. Dana Gordon, commanding officer, Capt. James Midkiff, executive officer, Command Master Chief William Mullinax and Cmdr. Stuart Day, supply officer, cut the ceremonial ribbon to open the smoothie bar.
"Some ships have Starbucks aboard, and we want to give all of our Sailors and Marines something like that during this deployment," said Gordon. "We hope everyone enjoys the smoothies the four hard-working Marines that run the smoothie bar make."
One of the first Sailors to enjoy a strawberry and mango smoothie was Machinist's Mate 3rd Class Ruby Foley.
"When I heard they were opening a smoothie bar I was really excited to try one out," said Foley. "I plan on coming here as often as I can to enjoy one because they are delicious."
The Black Sands Cafe currently offers three flavors; strawberry, mango and a strawberry-mango mix.
"Supply department owns the ship's store, barbershop and laundry," said Kapusta. "The smoothie bar is one more piece of that pie to boost everyone's morale and increase productivity. And the increase in productivity is incalculable."
Iwo Jima is the flagship for the Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and, with the embarked 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), provides a versatile sea-based, expeditionary force that can be tailored to a variety of missions in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.
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