USS Iwo Jima Celebrates Halfway Point

USS Iwo Jima Celebrates Halfway Point

Sailors and Marines of multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) celebrated the halfway point of their deployment Aug. 1, while deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.

Iwo Jima’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) department hosted the ship’s halfway point with a day full of events, giving the crew a chance to reflect on their accomplishments and prepare for what is to come all while in a relaxing environment.

The first half went by faster than I thought,” said Air Traffic Controller 3rd Class Adam Wall, an Iwo Jima Sailor. “We have the second half to go and still a lot of hard work ahead of us.”

MWR provided a variety of entertainment ranging from a talent show, tug-of-war competition, 5K run, hot wing eating contest and an Iron Man Challenge.

“Although the halfway point was on July 27, having the celebration made it official,” said Personnel Specialist 3rd Class Antonino Gagliardo.

While many crew members continue marking their calendars, Logistics Specialist 1st Class Michelle Elege said the crew must remember the importance of completing the mission ahead.

“I encouraged my junior Sailors to enjoy themselves today, but stressed to them that tomorrow still brings about a mission,” said Elege. “We must not get complacent, but stay sharp until we hear ‘moored’ back in Norfolk.”

Family and loved ones stateside also took time out to celebrate with a halfway point spouse night out that included dinner and karaoke, and a halfway family party that featured a live DJ, balloon artist, pinatas, games and a silent auction.

“We are so excited to have finally reached this point in the deployment,” said Jeannette Taylor, Iwo Jima’s Family Readiness Group president. “We are looking forward now to our next event which would be homecoming day.”

The first half of the deployment has proved productive for many on board. Since departing, 148 Sailors have earned the Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist qualification and another 62 Sailors have qualified as an Enlisted Aviation Warfare Specialist.

The ship has served more than 756,000 meals, completed 3,522 flight evolutions, used 5,036,672 gallons of fuel and conducted more than 300 hours of well deck operations.

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, August 7, 2012; Image: US Navy