By USS George Washington Public Affairs
YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- Two days after returning to their forward operating port of Yokosuka, Japan, the crew of USS George Washington (CVN 73) took time to celebrate Thanksgiving, Nov. 24, giving thanks for the past year even though many are far away from their families overseas.
"This is my first Thanksgiving away from home, so I'm getting my mind ready to not to be with my family," said Airman Spencer Neil, from Atlanta. "But, I'm thankful for everything this year because all these things I have this year weren't here last year, so I'm joyous and thankful."
Last year's operational commitments required George Washington to return to sea, having the crew enjoying a Thanksgiving feast underway without their families. This year brought a welcomed change with those not on duty able to spend the holidays with family or friends. But, those working aboard the ship were not forgotten as Sailors working in the ship's galleys spent weeks planning a traditional Thanksgiving with all the tastes of a home-cooked meal including, turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, and pumpkin pie.
"I'd rather work on Thanksgiving, to be around the atmosphere, around the people. For right now, and the next few years while I'm serving out my contract, this is my family," added Neil, who works as a food service attendant in the aft galley.
Culinary Specialists and Food Service Attendants working in the ship's galley, chief's mess, and wardroom spent nearly eight hours cooking, serving and cleaning up after the Thanksgiving meal. More than 600 pounds of turkey, 500 pounds of prime rib and nearly 400 pounds of ham were prepared to feed the nearly 1,500 personnel and their families who were aboard the carrier for the meal.
"When I walk by and I see people eating, it makes me happy because they're actually enjoying the meal," said Culinary Specialist Seaman Brooke Barnes of Georgetown, Texas. "Everyone put their little hearts and souls into the meal."
Senior enlisted members of the crew directed chow lines on both sides of the galley, ensuring Sailors didn't have to wait long to enjoy their meal.
"The food was fantastic, I was surprised how good it was," said Interior Communications Specialist 3rd Class Sean Gehrold from Ramtown, N.J. "It really made me feel a lot better about being on duty."
George Washington returned to her forward operating port of Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka November 22 after a nine-week patrol as the Navy's only full-time forward-deployed aircraft carrier, ensuring security and stability across the western Pacific Ocean.