MANAMA, Bahrain (NNS) -- An operation unlike any other currently underway in the 5th Fleet area of responsibility is being dubbed a success by the smiles from one end of the fleet to the other.
Operation Thin Mint is a nationwide Girl Scouts of America effort, spearheaded for the Navy by the Girls Scouts from the San Diego-Imperial Council. This is the second year of the operation, that's goal is to put a box of Girl Scout Cookies into the hands of each servicemember serving in military operations around the world.
The success of last year's operation involved more than 113,000 boxes of cookies and several thousand notes from Girl Scouts. This year, the operation was taken to the next level, with more than 200,000 boxes of cookies and many more thousands of notes going to servicemembers serving in Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.
More than 90,000 of these boxes arrived in Jebel Ali April 24 for further distribution to the Sailors and Marines serving both ashore and afloat in the 5th Fleet. Upon the cookies arrival in the desert, arose the obvious logistical challenge of sweltering heat versus fudge.
"How do we keep them from melting?" asked Commander, Logistics Forces, Naval Central Command/Commander Task Force 53's Afloat Commodity Manager Lt. Cmdr. Christopher Thompson, who was assigned the task of distributing the valuable cargo. "All 90,000 boxes arrived in two large chilled containers, but needed to be palletized and readied for shipment. With the help of a local vendor, we were able to get the pallets on their way to where they were going," said Thompson.
Beginning the next leg of their journey, the now palletized cookies were then loaded aboard USNS Sirius (T-AFS 9) and USNS Guadalupe (T-AO 200), who would add the cookies to their routine underway replenishments conducted with the currently deployed Carrier Strike Groups and Amphibious Task Forces.
"Lots of ships have come back saying it was a tremendous morale booster." said Thompson. "The Girl Scouts are associated with home, and this brought home out here. People were very appreciative, and I think this makes them feel like they haven't been forgotten."
Upon completion of their journey, the cookies had brought a piece of home to Sailors and Marines aboard more than 25 ships deployed to the area, as well as several shore commands and detachments around the 5th Fleet.
"It reminds everybody of home. They're excited and all jazzed up about getting they're favorite kind," said Senior Enlisted Advisor for Naval Security Forces Bahrain Master Chief Master-at-Arms (SW/AW) Lee McKinney, who supervised more than 3,000 boxes walking out the door in the first hour of distribution to the more than 50 tenant commands on Naval Support Activity Bahrain. "It's just the simple things like this that make the big differences out here."
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