Report from the U.S. Navy -
USS IWO JIMA, At Sea– The multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) celebrated the 237th birthday of the United States Navy, Oct. 13 while deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.
The day began with a special formation of the ship’s crew on the flight deck, arranged to form “2-3-7-T-H”, representing the number of years of naval heritage and fighting spirit being celebrated.
“The purpose of the formation was to inspire morale, and reflect on a Navy tradition for the crew and the rest of our brothers and sisters serving in the fleet,” said Chief Aviation Machinist’s Mate Alfred Miessner, Iwo Jima’s Navy Birthday committee co-coordinator.
Following the flight deck formation, a remembrance ceremony was held on the mess decks, which began with an opening prayer by U.S. Navy Chaplain, Cdr. Harold Caserta. A birthday speech highlighting the accomplishments of the Navy and the capability and endurance of today’s Sailors was then given by the ship’s Commanding Officer, Capt. Grady Banister.
“The U.S. Navy has always been on the cutting edge and has always pushed technology,” said Banister. “There is no difference between the Sailors of today and the Sailors who manned the guns in 1812, during the Civil War or in the Coral Sea.”
The final event of the day was the traditional cake cutting ceremony. The birthday cake was created by Iwo Jima’s culinary specialists, who were also selected to participate in a Navy Times article highlighting this year’s Navy Birthday. Chief Culinary Specialist Ashley Reid-Hart and Culinary Specialist2nd Class Jakeila Owens spent three days preparing and assembling the cake.
Participating in the cake cutting ceremony were Iwo Jima’s oldest and youngest Sailors, Lt. Cmdr John Thiers and Master-at-Arms Seaman Apprentice Nicholas Ada.
“We have a wonderful heritage,” said Banister. “Don’t ever think for a moment that you are not a part of that heritage. You have exactly what it takes to do what they did. The same steely spine that supported Sailors in 1775 is still present today and we are still that same Navy.”
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.