NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS) -- Thanksgiving is a time when families come together and enjoy the festivities the holiday brings, and Sailors aboard Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) celebrated this past Thanksgiving in similar fashion.
Sailors on duty on Thanksgiving Day enjoyed a meal on the Floating Accommodation Facility, and were even able to bring family members aboard.
Chief Hospital Corpsman David Long has been serving in the Navy for a decade and has spent many Thanksgiving holidays all over the world away from family.
"I've spent Thanksgiving in Afghanistan, where I got to go back to a [forward operating base] and enjoy a turkey meal there, but my family was far away," said Long. "I've spent it in Japan performing field [operations]. We got some excellent food in our tent, but I was separated from my family, so this is kind of unique for me to be able to bring them to see what I've been doing while on duty.”
Long brought his wife and two-year-old son to the ship to enjoy the holiday feast.
"He's very excited,” said Long. “He's been saying all week, ‘Go see da-da's ship, go see George Washington.' Hopefully he's young enough not to be disappointed that no jets are flying. I think he's excited enough just because he feels like he gets to do something special. It's hard to explain what we do to our families or civilians who don't understand or do it themselves, and so to be able to bring them in and let them see a little bit of it is a unique opportunity."
Along with duty section members and families, Capt. Daryle Cardone, executive officer (XO) aboard George Washington, and Command Master Chief Maurice Coffey, command master chief aboard George Washington, also came to help dish out meals.
“It was good to see family and friends of our Sailors that were here on duty come in and break bread with the crew,” said Coffey. “It was my honor to serve them, and have my family with me as well. We’re more than just a Navy; we’re a Navy family, and families come together during the holidays and give thanks for our blessings and each other, so it was great to share this day with our warfighters and their families.”
And for those who got up in the early morning hours, they appreciated having the command leadership on hand to celebrate the meal.
"For the XO and the CMC to come to the ship when they don't have to shows us that they are here to help us out no matter what," said Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Marshall Haley. "It shows they see our hard work and are willing to give us a little recognition."
Even though George Washington is going through refueling complex overhaul (RCOH), Sailors must still stand the watch, and it is essential for the ship’s morale to have a meal with all the bells and whistles.
"Even though we aren't out to sea or underway, we still stand duty and are still separated from our families," said Long. "It's good for the command to recreate that emotional experience for these Sailors."
Haley and his team have been making preparations since Nov. 18, including preparing approximately 1,000 pounds of food for 300 people.
The meal would not have been a success without the hard work and dedication of the supply team.
“Each year, the culinary specialists do an amazing job,” said Coffey. “They came in around 2 a.m. to start preparing the meal for everybody, and they love it because they get to show off their talents to the crew. We appreciate all the hard work that went into making it a meal to remember.”
For more news from USS George Washington (CVN 73), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn73/.