By MC2 Hunter S. Harwell

USS Iwo Jima 

The crew of the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) took time off from their busy schedule to hold a command picnic at the Sea Otter Pavilion onboard Naval Station Mayport, July 28.

More than 1,100 Sailors and family members attended the picnic, enjoying barbeque, games and each other's company. 

 "I think this was a fabulous event for all those who attended," said Capt. James Midkiff, Iwo Jima's commanding officer. "I was glad to see so many family members in attendance and it was nice to give back to those who sacrifice so much so we can do our jobs."

The command picnic was organized by the Iwo Jima's Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) committee as a way to give Sailors some well-deserved time off and to help create networks throughout the command. 

 "After coming back from a few long underways and preparing for a lot more time away from home, this was the perfect time to relax," said Markita Bullock, Iwo Jima's Fun Boss. "Once we go on deployment, it will be tough on these families.  This was a chance to build up a support system between the other military families that will be going through the same situation," he continued. "It benefits the family members to see what the Sailor is like at work and meet the people that are with them when they can't be home."

The event wasn't all conversations and food, as MWR organized various activities for guests of all ages, including carnival games, a water slide, an adult-sized bounce house, and a dunk tank.

 "It was a fun-filled event and there was something here for ages eight to 80," said Midkiff. "I appreciate all those who planned and worked the event. With our schedule beginning to ramp up over the next few months, everyone had the chance to relax, take a break and just enjoy the company of family and friends." 

Iwo Jima is in homeport conducting a scheduled continuous maintenance availability in preparation for their upcoming deployment.