PACIFIC OCEAN (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) celebrated Thanksgiving Day with feasts and festivities in the ship's hangar bay and on its mess decks, Nov. 24.
Sailors began their festivities with a 9:30 a.m., special Thanksgiving Day blessing from Lt. Cmdr. Tavis Long, a Navy chaplain, over the 1MC, with the beginning of holiday food service just 30 minutes later.
Sailors watched football on a big screen in the hangar bay as the ship held a daylong tailgating event including snacks, games and contests.
"I think everybody should have a pretty good time with everything we are doing out here for this wonderful holiday," said Chris Cation, John C. Stennis' Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) director, from Union, Washington.
Sailors also raced to see who could finish a pie the fastest during halftime of the Vikings and Lions football game and competed in a field goal kicking competition.
"It was a great morale booster," said Seaman Brian Wright, from air department, from Baltimore, a contestant of the field goal competition. "It got [the crew] together and let us socialize in a different way."
Later in the afternoon, Sailors made their way below decks to find a mess decks decorated with paper turkeys and a holiday meal waiting to be served. The menu featured baked spiral ham, oven-roasted turkey with gravy, cranberry sauce, stuffing and dressing, mashed and scalloped potatoes, green bean casserole, soup and salad bar, pies, cookies, ice cream, sparkling cider and eggnog. The event included guest servers, with the ship's commanding officer, executive officer, command master chief, wardroom and Chiefs Mess all taking turns on the serving line.
"I do feel like it is Thanksgiving. MWR [Morale, Welfare and Recreation] and supply did a really great job to help boost the morale," said Ensign Jessica Lee Harrison, from Claremore, Oklahoma, John C. Stennis' disbursing officer. This was her first shipboard Thanksgiving. "They are really trying to help make the distance from family and friends more manageable. We are a family here too though, so we are celebrating here together while our loved ones wait for us back home."
The four-hour Thanksgiving dinner service was the culmination of months of planning and numerous hours of preparation. According to Chief Warrant Officer Robert Compton, John C. Stennis' food service officer, approximately 120 food service and volunteer personnel worked to help make the meal service periods successful.
"Today is about giving thanks, not only for our ancestors' arrival in this country, but for our family, friends and shipmates," said Compton. "Although we are away from home, out here doing the job of defending our country and fulfilling our mission, we have a lot to be thankful for today as a crew."
While food service activities concluded by 6 p.m., the conversations, football games and activities continued well into the evening in common areas and work centers around the ship.
"Although this is different from home, it feels like Thanksgiving to me," said Petty Officer 2nd Class Arthur Macapagal, from San Diego. "There is football, good food and I've got my [Navy] family here."
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