USS SAN DIEGO, At Sea (NNS) (NNS) -- Christmas is the time of year that friends and family come together for a religious and cultural celebration. It is shared by many countries and billions of people around the world as a time to bond, rejoice, renew friendships, exchange gifts and have a festive holiday.
More than 1100 Sailors and embarked Marines, assigned to the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), celebrated Christmas December 25 aboard the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS San Diego (LPD 22).
Although San Diego was out at sea, there was no shortage of holiday spirit and festivities that the crew could participate in, to include an ugly sweater contest.
"The contest started out just as a small thing between a group of people and eventually more people signed up to participate," said Ship's Serviceman 3rd Class Donavan Turner, the president of the Coalition of Sailors Against Destructive Decisions and organizer of the contest. "I'm glad we could bring the ugly sweater tradition to other Sailors and Marines and see the joy it brought to other people."
Another holiday tradition that the crew participated in was a door decorating contest. Doors that were ornamented were judged by a select panel that awarded the top three doors with prizes.
"Decorating the doors with my shipmates reminds me of home," said Gas Turbine System Technician (Mechanical) 2nd Class Andrew White, assigned to Assault Craft Unit 5. "In a way, it's just like decorating your house for Christmas but instead of your neighbors being across the street, they're across the hallway."
Preparation for the Christmas meal began more than two weeks before the holiday as the culinary specialists baked pies, peeled potatoes, and prepared the hams and turkeys.
"There was a lot of preparation and volunteer work that was put into this holiday meal," said Senior Chief Culinary Specialist Richard O'Connell, the supply department leading chief petty officer. "I appreciate all the hard work and preparation it took to make this holiday feel like home for the crew."
The supply department prepared two whole pigs, 600 pounds of prime rib, 510 pounds of turkey, 300 assorted pies, 60 gallons of beef and turkey gravy, and more than 200 pounds of potatoes.
"Having such a great meal prepared for me reminded me of what Christmas is really about," said Sgt. Sean Mesubed. "As much as I miss my family on land, being together on this ship during the holiday brings us together as shipmates and enhances our unit cohesion, making Team San Diego one big family. Family is what Christmas is all about."
San Diego, part of the America Amphibious Ready Group, with the embarked 15th MEU, is operating in the Indo-Asia Pacific region to strengthen partnerships and serve as a ready-response force for any type of contingency.
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