New Way of Boosting Sailors’ Moral Aboard USS Iwo Jima


Sailors and Marines aboard multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) are finding new ways to express themselves while on deployment thanks to the Iwo Coffeehouse, June 19.

The ship’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation department sponsors the biweekly coffeehouse which offers Sailors and Marines an opportunity to relax and share their love of music and arts with others.

By a simple change of lighting and repositioning of the crew, Iwo Jima’s mess deck is transformed from a busy chow hall to a coffeehouse, filled with encouraging finger snaps replacing the historical round of applause following performances. Adding a final touch to the atmosphere, the ship’s Chaplain department provides a variety of coffee, teas and hot chocolates for spectators to sip while listening to the various performers.

“There’s no doubt that being on deployment is stressful,” said Cryptologic Technician [Collection] 2nd Class Ian Webster, an Iwo Coffeehouse performer.With Iwo’s Coffeehouse, you can take all your stress and do something constructive with it by sharing your art with the crew.”

“We wanted to create a place where Sailors and Marines could call home,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate [Handling] 3rd Class Shynetra Wright, one of the founders of the new and improved Iwo Coffeehouse. “I feel a coffeehouse provides a place where people have the opportunity to be comfortable and express themselves.”

By use of multiple mediums ranging from poetry, spoken word, songs and music-based expressions, service members are able to share their feelings with supportive comrades.

“Music is my one true passion in life,” said Webster. “Having an event like this, where I can share my passion, is the best thing I could hope for in the middle of a deployment.”

The open-minded atmosphere and the appeal of a coffeehouse welcomes all Sailors and Marines on board.

“The goal of the coffeehouse is to give people who don’t normally get the chance to express themselves the opportunity to do so,” said Wright. “Self-expression comes in all forms from rapping to poetry, and we welcome it all here.”

Iwo Jima, along with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, is currently deployed supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.

Naval Today Staff , July 3, 2012