Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Aime Lykins

BREMERTON, Washington – More than 25 members of USS John C. Stennis’ (CVN 74) Mustang Association conducted an Adopt-A-Highway cleanup and sign dedication, Aug. 29.

The cleanup served a dual purpose as both a community service event and a tribute to late shipmate, Erik M. Sweet, a member of John C. Stennis’ mustang community, officers who were prior enlisted, and former maintenance material manager.

“Most of us knew Erik,” said Cmdr. Robert Burgess, vice president of the Mustang Association, from Romulus, Michigan. “When I came in as the vice president … I had an idea to do something that would memorialize Erik but also service the community and get our name out there since we have been gone so much during the past year.”

Burgess coordinated the adoption of a 3-mile stretch of Kitsap County roadway alongside Lt. Joshua William Bunte, John C. Stennis’ maintenance material management officer.

“Cmdr. Burgess came up with the idea but we both ran with it,” said Bunte. “We reached out to Kitsap County and said we were interested in doing [the] Adopt-A-Highway program.”

After more than an hour of cleaning the roadside, the group of Sailors gathered around the newly planted signpost commemorating Erik and declaring John C. Stennis’ mustang association as the keepers of the roadway.

“Erik loved being a [limited duty officer (LDO)],” said Seymour. “He was exuberant and full of life. He was the type of LDO that loved the Navy, helping people, mentoring and making people feel important.”

The beautification was the first of the bi-annual Adopt-A-Highway cleanups the mustang association is slated to hold.

John C. Stennis is conducting a routine maintenance availability following a deployment to U.S. 7th and 3rd Fleet areas of operation.

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