Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nick A. Grim

SOUTH CHINA SEA – Six Sailors performed in a lip-sync competition on USS John C. Stennis’ (CVN 74) mess decks, May 19.

The competition was hosted by John C. Stennis’ Coalition of Sailors Against Destructive Decisions (CSADD) and presented Sailors with the opportunity to compete by performing songs of their choice.

Operations Specialist 2nd Class Nakita McGee, from Houston, a CSADD member and the event organizer, said the idea for the competition came to her after watching a similarly themed contest on television

“I just thought it would be awesome to bring that to the ship for those who can’t sing and gives us an opportunity to show our other skills,” said McGee.

Prior to the competition, there were tryouts with a panel of judges to ensure the songs and performances were in good taste. The response from the audience was the ultimate deciding factor in crowning the winner.

Naval Air Crewman (Helicopter) 3rd Class Jordan Hunter, from Phoenix, and Naval Air Crewman (Helicopter) 3rd Class Bennett Grisley, from Rochester, N.Y., took the first place prize. The duo won with performances of Outkast’s “Roses” and Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies”.

“I loved it,” said Hunter, “seeing people laugh and have an hour worth of memories for the rest of the cruise is worth it.”

According to McGee, these types of events help Sailors build morale, have some fun and get a break from their hard work doing the Navy’s mission.

“My goal with the crew is to get people involved and do something different,” said McGee, “I just want the crew to enjoy the competition.”

For more news from John C. Stennis visit http://www.stennis.navy.mil or http://www.facebook.com/stennis74.

Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kenneth Rodriguez Santiago

SOUTH CHINA SEA – In November 2012, Interior Communications Electrician 2nd Class John Schulte, from Riverside, Calif., was at home and had just finished eating dinner when he received the call that would change his life.

Schulte had nodular melanoma, a form of skin cancer.

“The first phone call I received tore me up pretty bad; I was distraught and scared,” said Schulte. “I was worried about myself, but I was just as worried about my wife. She was six months pregnant. The doctor made it sound like it was the worst-case scenario”

Being diagnosed with cancer can happen out of nowhere. People can go through their daily routine without feeling any symptoms or having even the slightest thought of being sick before they find out something is wrong.

Schulte had a mole on his right temple next to his eye. During his deployment with USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) earlier that year, the mole changed color and size. He wanted it removed for cosmetic reasons but didn’t have the slightest clue it was cancer. After removing the mole, the dermatologist told Schulte it would be tested to ensure nothing was wrong with it.

There was. Schulte went in for his first surgery Nov. 27, 2012.

His coworkers were shocked at first and wanted to show their support anyway they could. Schulte decided he would rather joke about his situation than be grim.

When Schulte found out he needed a skin graft from his thigh or butt cheek, his coworkers started calling him ‘butt face.’ They gave him gag gifts to lift his spirit. It all helped to keep him laughing through his ordeal.

“We all go through a lot of challenging times together,” said Schulte. “I think humor and staying positive is one of the ways that can help anyone get through those times.”

After spending nine months recovering from his third surgery, Schulte found out the Navy was considering medically separating him.

“I got past the fact that I had cancer pretty quickly because I had so much other stuff going on,” said Schulte. “I was more concerned with my family and possibly being out of the Navy.”

Schulte was the sole provider and questioned how he was going to support his family.

He wrote a personal statement for his medical board saying why he wanted to continue to serve. To his surprise, the Navy listened.

Schulte said before the cancer he really did not like being in the Navy and questioned why he chose to join. Now, he has a different opinion.

“I think going through this experience has shown me that the Navy does more for my family and me than I could ever imagine,” said Schulte. Reflecting on how his friends and fellow Sailors supported him emotionally and the Navy paid for his medical treatments, he added, “It showed me that I’m part of a big family.”

Now Schulte wants to pay it forward by supporting his Sailors.

“We have our rank and everything, but when you need to be supported the most, there is someone there to help you through it,” said Schulte. “I want to be able to give the same support to others that I received. I want to show other Sailors that life isn’t as bad as you think it is on deployment.”

Schulte may have been through an emotional roller coaster when he was diagnosed with cancer, but taking that experience and reflecting on it gave him a new perceptive on life, the Navy and the Sailors around him.

Story by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Dakota Rayburn

SOUTH CHINA SEA – Sailors aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) are conducting their first Physical Fitness Assessment (PFA) with the new body composition assessment (BCA) standards.

The new standard now allows for a maximum body fat percentage of 26 percent for males and 36 percent for females.

“[The new standard] is not easier, it’s just more accommodating to certain body types,” said Senior Chief Quartermaster Henry Nicol, from Hemet, Calif., John C. Stennis’ command fitness coordinator.

In addition to being allowed only two failures in a three-year period, a new step to calculating a Sailor’s BCA has been added this year. If a Sailor doesn’t meet a standard height-to-weight ratio, the width of their abdomen will be measured. The maximum abdominal width a male Sailor can have is 39 inches and females are allowed up to 35.5 inches. If a Sailor has exceeded both of those maximums, then their body fat percentage will be calculated.

“[The measurement] is now a graduated body fat percentage so that someone who is 37 or 38 [years old] doesn’t have to be at the same body fat percentage as someone who is 20,” said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Bryan Clarke, from Whittier, Calif., an assistant command fitness leader. “It’s a little more realistic.”

The new standard is meant to be more inclusive and increase retention by preventing problems that could possibly end a career. Sailors who are unable to meet PFA standards are enrolled into the Fitness Enhancement Program (FEP) to help get them back in shape.

“We are looking out for Sailors’ physical fitness while holding to Navy standards,” said Nicol. “The thing about our command is there is something for everybody. If there is a fitness class being done on board this ship, that is your FEP session.”

Clarke says Sailors often mistake FEP sessions as a punitive action. He says during the sessions he runs, he tries to engage Sailors to help them understand he is trying to find the best way to get them back in shape, not punish them.

“In my experience it’s not really conducive to get someone to do what you want them to do by getting them in trouble,” said Clarke. “For an operational platform, I think we are doing well as far as servicing our people’s needs for physical activity.”

Providing a ready force supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific, John C. Stennis is operating as part of the Great Green Fleet on a regularly scheduled 7th Fleet deployment.

For more news on USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) visit http://navy.mil/local/cvn74/ or http://www.facebook.com/stennis74.

Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class David A. Cox

SOUTH CHINA SEA – Sailors have many investment options when it comes to retirement, one of those is the Navy’s Thrift Savings Plan (TSP).

Chief Aviation Maintenance Administrationman Rhoda Rothwell, USS John C. Stennis’ (CVN 74) lead command financial specialist, has spent the last year ensuring Sailors understand the various options for investing, including TSP.

“TSP is not like a regular savings plan where it’s just sitting in an account with very little [return on investment],” said Rothwell. “You can keep track of where your money is going and how much return on investment it’s accruing. It’s a better way to get more for your money.”

TSP is the equivalent of a civilian 401K. The plan takes in money as a reduction from a member’s payroll before taxes, and lets military members decide where to allocate the money based on six different funds.

The safest fund in TSP is the G fund, which invests money into government bonds. The S, I and C funds invest into publicly traded companies and are much riskier yet have the highest return on investment. The F fund is a mix of bonds and stocks, and the L fund invests in all of the above based on the retirement goals of the service member.
“If you put it all into the G fund you won’t be getting the most bang for your buck, but if allocated well to all the funds, you could be making a decent return on investment in a few years, said Rothwell. “Six percent each paycheck could very well turn into a million dollars by the age of retirement.”

Rothwell said that the L fund is probably the best fund for a young Sailor just joining.

Having a TSP also has several other advantages including: being able to borrow against the amount available in your account for personal loans or home loans and being able to roll the amount over into a private 401K or individual retirement account.

If a service member decides to withdraw all of their TSP before the early retirement age of 59½, the amount will be subject to a 20 percent federal income tax in addition to a 10 percent early withdrawal penalty. When a person separates from the military they are allowed to keep their investment in TSP however they must withdraw the full amount or roll it into a different account by age 70½.

Rothwell said Sailors should save in the TSP because it’s an account you don’t see every day like your savings account.

“Your first thought when you look for money for an emergency isn’t to take your money out of your TSP, it’s to take it out your savings,” said Rothwell. “A good quote by Warren Buffet is ‘Do not save what is left after spending, but spend what is left after savings,’ which is easy when you have a TSP, if you budget and finance correctly you won’t have a problem.”

Providing a ready force supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific, John C. Stennis is operating as part of the Great Green Fleet on a regularly scheduled 7th Fleet deployment.

For more news on USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) visit http://navy.mil/local/cvn74/ or http://www.facebook.com/stennis74.

Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christopher Frost

SOUTH CHINA SEA – Sailors aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) gathered in the ship’s training room complex for a monthly women’s leadership meeting, May 9.
The women’s leadership meeting is an inclusive forum for all Sailors to voice their opinions about a variety of topics.
“The women’s leadership meeting is informal, positive, open and accepting,” said Chief Aviation Maintenance Adminstrationman Wannise Burch, from Virginia Beach, Va., the meeting’s coordinator. “The goal is to get everyone to discuss their issues.”
Burch remembers the challenges she went through as a junior Sailor, such as being a single mother.
“I wanted to take that experience and help Sailors … by giving them an outlet,” said Burch. “I like that we can all come together as Sailors and mentor each other.”
The topics of the meeting ranged from sexual assault prevention to how to inspire Sailors. Over the course of an hour, everyone in attendance, junior and senior, added to the conversation.
“We have all different ranks and demographics from all over the country, and everybody has a different perspective,” said Chief Yeoman Kristin Zimmer, from Crystal River, Fla.
Zimmer added that having such a wide variety of opinions helps members explore those different perspectives and get a deeper understanding of how issues affect each other.
“I came without knowing exactly what it was,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Equipment) 3rd Class Jamesha Evans, from Savannah, Ga. “[The meeting] is a good place to discuss any topic openly. It helps reinforce being a positive role model, whether educating my Sailors about sexual assault, or just trying to stay enthusiastic and inspire them.”
All hands, regardless of gender, are invited to discuss leadership and the role of women in today’s Navy.
Only 37 years ago, women were not permitted to serve aboard U.S. Navy ships, now 17 percent of John C. Stennis’ crew is female. Since implementing equal opportunity policies for Sailors, the demographic makeup of the Navy has continuously trended closer to that of the U.S. work force, which is currently about 47 percent female.
Providing a ready force supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific, John C. Stennis is operating as part of the Great Green Fleet on a regularly scheduled 7th Fleet deployment.
For more news on John C. Stennis visit http://navy.mil/local/cvn74/ or http://www.facebook.com/stennis74.

Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christopher Frost

SOUTH CHINA SEA – Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9 Sailors completed the mid-deployment Material Condition Inspection (MCI) while embarked on USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), May 13.
Naval Air Forces Pacific performs the MCI to ensure all squadrons of CVW-9 are meeting maintenance and safety standards at the beginning and midway point of deployment.
The air wing achieved a passing grade on all inspections, including an inspection on the highest flight-hour F/A-18 Super Hornet currently used in the Navy.
CVW-9 consists of the Black Aces of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 41, the Tophatters of VFA 14, the Warhawks of VFA 97, the Vigilantes of VFA 151, the Wizards of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 133, the Golden Hawks of Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 112, the Chargers of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 14, the Raptors of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 71 and the Providers of Fleet Logistics Combat Support Squadron (VRC) 30.
“We always have room to improve, but overall, [the] air wing did a great job,” said Lt. Cmdr. Rich Killian, from Lemoore, Calif., CVW-9’s maintenance officer. “The thing about Stennis is that everyone wants us to succeed. We couldn’t do it alone. We wanted to hone our partnership [with the ship’s crew] from day one. The ‘look ahead’ mentality the air wing adopted from the ship early on has paid dividends in the long run.”
‘Look Ahead’ is John C. Stennis’ official motto.

Every squadron in CVW-9 participated in at least one invasive and one non-invasive inspection designed to thoroughly assess the condition of the aircraft, as well as an inspection of the squadron’s maintenance documents.
“There was a lot of involvement by Sailors and leadership,” said Chief Aviation Structural Mechanic Adam Spencer, from Lemoore, Calif., one of the Material Condition Inspectors. “There was hard work going into [this inspection]. The maintainers were motivated and open to suggestion.”
The F/A-18E Super Hornet from the Tophatters, with side number 201 (bureau number 166435), has 5,558 flight-hours, the most of any Super Hornet used in the Navy, and passed the inspection performed on it.
“Due to hard effort and diligence, we pulled through on the inspection,” said Aviation Structural Mechanic 1st Class Nathaniel Toothman, from Jacksonville, Fla., Tophatters’ airframes division leading petty officer. “[Aircraft 201] is the hardest working and most well used in the fleet, and it’s one of our better aircraft.”
According to Tophatters’ maintenance maintenance control officer Lt. j.g. Drew Buckley, from Redwood Falls, Minn., the air wing wouldn’t have been able to achieve this score without the maintainers’ expertise.
“These jets fly hard and long,” said Buckley. “Our maintainers are proud to keep these aircraft in good shape.”
Providing a ready force supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific, John C. Stennis is operating as part of the Great Green Fleet on a regularly scheduled 7th Fleet deployment.
For more news on John C. Stennis visit http://navy.mil/local/cvn74/ or http://www.facebook.com/stennis74.

Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class David A. Cox

SOUTH CHINA SEA – Sailors from USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9 marked a milestone May 5 with the deployment’s 5,000th arrested landing, or trap.

John C. Stennis and CVW-9 have worked hard together through a rigorous workup cycle and put their lessons learned into practice on this deployment.

“Five thousand traps is a huge accomplishment,” said Lt. Chris Jones, from Paintsville, Ky., the acting aircraft handling officer during the 5,000th trap. “It’s a testament to the hard work of the men and women on the flight deck putting in long hours day in and day out in the heat.”

Lt. Shane Brady, from Annapolis, Md., assigned to the Vigilantes of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 151, piloted the F/A-18E Super Hornet that completed the 5,000th arrested landing.

“It was a series of fortunate events,” said Brady. “I didn’t even know I had made it until the maintenance guys told me the [commanding officer] had announced it.”

Master Chief Aviation Boatswain’s Mate Jack Hudson, from Mexico, Mo., the leading chief petty officer for the air department aboard John C. Stennis, said the trap reflected the hard work put into ensuring the safe launch and recovery of aircraft.

“The crew has worked their butts off this deployment,” said Hudson. “They don’t have time to take a break … they’re highly energized and love what they do. It’s truly amazing.”

Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Equipment) Airman Andres Cardenas, from Orlando, Fla., took pride knowing he helped retract the arresting gear during the 5,000th trap.

“It is an honor knowing I helped to catch the 5,000th trap,” said Cardenas. “I do it out of love, sweat and tears, and it feels great. I’m happy to be a part of it.”

Providing a ready force supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific, John C. Stennis is operating as part of the Great Green Fleet on a regularly scheduled 7th Fleet deployment.

For more news on USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) visit http://navy.mil/local/cvn74/ or http://www.facebook.com/stennis74.

Story by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Susan Damman

SOUTH CHINA SEA – “Mama, Mama, can’t you see, what the Navy’s done to me,” sings the cadence caller.

Recruits march in columns three abreast, like lines of ants crawling to a food source. They concentrate deeply on staying in step with the cadence as their recruit division commanders (RDC) follow carefully alongside, scrutinizing the ranks for any mistakes.

“Used to drive a Chevrolet; now I’m marching every day.”

Ask any enlisted Sailor and they’ll have a story about Recruit Training Command (RTC), often called boot camp. Whether it’s marching; folding, unfolding, and refolding clothes; getting yelled at by their RDC; or the foolish things other recruits did or said, the experience is memorable.

While every Sailor remembers the experience, few choose to go back. RDCs are the Sailors who serve as the primary instructors for recruits at RTC. They are responsible for turning civilians into Sailors.

Chief Hull Maintenance Technician Jeremy Houske, from Thief River Falls, Minn., served as an RDC before reporting to USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). Houske pushed 1,584 Sailors in18 divisions between 2011 and 2014 and some of his former recruits are serving with him aboard John C. Stennis.

The impact of the experience lasts long after graduation for recruits and RDCs alike. Nearly five years after reporting to RTC for his first day in the Navy, Electrician’s Mate 2nd Class Andrew Pluss, from Denver, still remembers his RDC, then Petty Officer 1st Class Houske.

“[He was a] big, buff, first class who looked like he had been through a lot, and he was loud,” said Pluss. “When I got there they called him ‘Hooyah Houske’ because he liked to ITE [intensive training exercise] us all. So he was intimidating to say the least.”

Recruits aren’t the only Sailors who learn something at RTC. RDCs also benefit from the training environment.

“My best memory of being an RDC was when I actually graduated my first division, and was on the drill decks with 88 Sailors,” said Houske. “That feeling as an RDC, marching with your division, coming up in front, that was a big deal for me and it never stopped. It was always cool, even after 18 divisions. That was always the neat part for me, seeing the end result.”

Interior Communications Electrician 3rd Class Carlos Ruiz, from San Diego, was also one of Houske’s recruits in 2013.

“At first, my impression was that he was very strict, very motivated,” said Ruiz. “But during boot camp, I realized that he really cared and had a passion for what he did. It was something he took seriously and took pride in.”

Although Sailors remember their RDCs, not everyone gets to see them again. Pluss was surprised to hear that his former RDC would be at his new command, but his opinion of Houske hasn’t changed.

“I still have the utmost respect for him,” said Pluss. “I wouldn’t be here without many of his motivational speeches in boot camp. I wouldn’t have reenlisted if it weren’t for a lot of the things he had said back in boot camp.”

The lessons Houske preached at RTC motivated his recruits, and taught them the importance of teamwork, staying positive and hard work.

For Houske and his recruits, their relationship didn’t end at RTC, but it has changed.

“To see them and interact on a daily basis and see them still use the core values that we instill in them is really cool,” said Houske. “They’re not afraid to come see me anymore. They understand that I’m not an RDC; I’m the chief now. I tell them, ‘if you ever need anything, you come talk to me.’ The door is always open for that.”

Houske said transitioning from the high tempo of RTC was difficult when he first reported to John C. Stennis.

“He’s calmed down a little bit; he’s still that proactive guy but he’s not that RDC anymore,” said Machinery Repairman 3rd Class Trevor Reynolds, from Lancaster, N.H., one of Houske’s former recruits who now has Houske as his leading chief petty officer (LCPO). “He’s actually an LCPO now, and he’s a pretty good one. He takes good care of us. He’s definitely changed a lot since I got here two years ago.”

Houske said he wanted to be an RDC to make a difference. It wasn’t until after leaving RTC that he realized the reach of his influence.

“No one realizes the impact you’re going to have until you’re done; the impact is overwhelming,” said Houske. “I never thought I would come aboard and have this many Sailors [on board]. I’ve got them in reactor plants. I’ve got them in aviation. I’ve got them in supply. I’ve got them everywhere. I have two in my own division alone. It’s definitely rewarding.”

Having a positive effect on junior Sailors wasn’t the only reward for RDCs. Working with successful senior Sailors presents an opportunity to meet Sailors from other platforms, and to learn a lot about leadership and how to deal with difficult situations.

Houske said he received the best mentorship and guidance possible at RTC. The experience taught him how to interact with Sailors on a personal and professional basis.

“You’re more of a counselor than a drill instructor,” said Houske. “You’re always dealing with situations and things that happen and you have to be able to handle that no matter what those situations are.”

Being an RDC can definitely be challenging, said Houske. After completing the grueling three-month “C” school and receiving on-the-job training by shadowing, RDCs receive their first division. They work very long hours, sometimes 18-hour days, and have little time for their families. They are still expected to be involved in their command, perform collateral duties, and get qualifications.

Houske added that despite the challenges, the experience helped him become a better, more well-rounded Sailor.

For those Sailors who are up for the challenge, Houske recommends doing research. He advises prospective RDCs to talk honestly with their family about what to expect. It’s also important to be in excellent physical shape.

“The Navy is always looking for top Sailors to take these top challenging positions,” said Houske. “Understand you might sacrifice a little family time, but it’s the only place you can transform civilians into Sailors … the reward of doing it is well worth it in the end.”

Being an RDC is a challenging but rewarding experience. RDCs are the first impression new recruits have of the Navy. They are the foundation for what new Sailors come to expect. Sailors remember what they learn from their RDCs; they can still tell the stories of what happened at boot camp years afterward. The impact of the experience is carried with them for the rest of their Naval careers and even into their civilian lives. The Sailors who choose to return to boot camp as RDCs continue to learn about good leadership.

Providing a ready force supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific, John C. Stennis is operating as part of the Great Green Fleet on a regularly scheduled 7th Fleet deployment.

For more news on USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) visit http://navy.mil/local/cvn74/ or http://www.facebook.com/stennis74.

Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class David A. Cox

SINGAPORE – Sailors from USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9 participated in a community service project at Willing Hearts Soup Kitchen in Chai Chee, Singapore, April 20.

Willing Hearts Soup Kitchen provides meals to low income families, the elderly and the disabled by cooking and packaging three meals a day, from sunrise to long after sunset.

More than 30 Sailors volunteered at the event, cooking more than 300 pounds of rice and creating approximately 5,000 meals.

Chief Machinist’s Mate Brandon Miller from Atlanta, one of the organizers for the volunteer event, said that having the extra people helped to give the regular volunteers a much-needed break.

“We had Sailors creating lunch boxes, cooking rice, frying food, cooking vegetables, bagging lunches, loading the lunches into delivery vehicles and unloading vegetables,” said Miller. “We finished 30 minutes earlier than usual, but that says a lot about how efficient the regular volunteers are since they don’t typically have 30 people to help them, and they do this all day, everyday. It’s amazing.”

Many of the recipients of the food from Willing Hearts Soup Kitchen are Singaporeans who are unable to leave their homes. Because of this, Willing Hearts delivers the food they make instead of serving from one central location. The lunches are sent to over 50 locations across Singapore. The facility uses only fresh meats and vegetables that are donated by local supermarkets from around the region.

“Coming out here has a direct and positive impact on the local community,” said Miller. “Some of the people working at the facility may never have seen U.S. Navy Sailors, so being able to work alongside them builds camaraderie and directly impacts their perception of each person, the Stennis crew, the U.S. Navy and the United States of America.”

Volunteer opportunities for Sailors continue to be rewarding experiences. Logistics Specialist Seaman Vanessa Abney from Spartanburg, S.C., one of the volunteers at the event, said that being able to help the local community filled her with a sense of pride.

“My favorite part of the event was looking around and seeing all my shipmates cooking, plating food and cleaning,” said Abney. “We weren’t thinking of anything else but feeding the hungry. It made me feel proud.”
Providing a ready force supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific, John C. Stennis is operating as part of the Great Green Fleet on a regularly scheduled 7th Fleet deployment.
For more news on USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) visit http://navy.mil/local/cvn74/ or http://www.facebook.com/stennis74.

Story by Lt. Brendan Good

SOUTH CHINA SEA – Sailors aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) observed Passover with a traditional seder in the wardroom, April 25.

Despite being more than 10,000 miles from their families, Sailors sought to create a sense of community.

At the dinner, the seder plate took center stage, as the ship’s Supply Department and other organizations combined to provide matzah, horse radish, hardboiled eggs along with other required items. Sailors followed the same guidance as Jewish people around the world, retelling the story of slavery in Egypt, the ten plagues and exodus towards the Promised Land.
The event was open to the entire crew, as the holiday provides an opportunity to build a community around their common religion and culture.

Each Sailor has family at home who was practicing similar rituals. On the ship, Sailors continued the tradition of their ancestors by joining in with the Jewish community around the world in celebration of this event.

“I felt like I was at home, like a little kid again, back at the table,” said Electrician’s Mate 3rd Class Mitchell Dubin, from Sarasota, Fla. “We dress up in nice clothes and get together at the grandparent’s house, eat until we can’t move anymore, drink wine, be merry. There’s a reason it’s a two-hour ceremony.”

Many pieces of Sailors’ daily lives on an aircraft carrier are out of the ordinary, uncertain or high stress. One way to propagate a sense of normalcy is to carry on traditions and observe religious rituals as part of their busy weekly routine.

“It was great to get away from the everyday business and bustle of work down in the [propulsion] plant,” said Electrician’s Mate 2nd Class Andrew Pluss, from Denver. “It felt amazing getting back to my religion and celebrating a happy, yet sad, holiday that just brings me back home. Being able to do this on the ship provides that opportunity.”

The Jewish calendar is replete with holidays, remembrances and celebrations; one of the most significant is Passover. Like many religions, Judaism holds tradition paramount. This is why each Friday evening, the Jewish Sabbath, a group of Sailors from around the ship gathers together in the chapel. This simple observance is often enough to return Sailors to a positive frame of mind, reminding them of the importance of stepping back from looming deadlines or upcoming inspections, to practice their religion.

“Every Friday night at [6:oo p.m.] we have services in the chapel,” said Dubin. “I wish we did this every night. It brought us together for something very familiar and I am thankful for everyone involved who made it possible.”
Providing a ready force supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific, John C. Stennis is operating as part of the Great Green Fleet on a regularly scheduled 7th Fleet deployment.
For more news on USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) visit http://navy.mil/local/cvn74/ or http://www.facebook.com/stennis74.

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