Sailors and Marines assigned to the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) and the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) celebrated the estimated halfway mark of their deployment with an “Over the Hump” event, May 18.
The event, hosted by the Morale, Welfare and Recreation committee, along with several of Iwo Jima and MEU associations, featured a “steel beach picnic,” 5K race, and a talent show.
“We started today off with our 5K this morning at 7 a.m.,” said Jessy Howard, Iwo Jima’s Fun Boss. “It was really awesome. We had probably 200 people out here. Up on the flight deck, we’ve had cornhole, we’ve had basketball, a 3-point contest, fishing, golfing, a 40-yard dash, and fitness. So it’s been a lot of fun.”
It took weeks of planning to ensure the event was a success. The Chief Petty Officer Mess, Wardroom, and various associations came together to make it a special day for their shipmates and fellow Marines.
“It took a lot of hard work and a lot of coordination,” said Chief Quartermaster Jeffrey Ball, one of the primary coordinators. “Coming together with every association so everyone could play a part and feel like they did something to make this day happen. A lot of planning and prepping, a lot of meetings. At the end of the day, I hope that everyone’s enjoying themselves, and it looks like it was a successful event.”
Celebrating this milestone of their deployment had Sailors and Marines thinking of home and what they have to look forward to.
“Spend time with my wife. That’s the first thing I’m going to do when I get home,” said Chief Yeoman John FelizPolanco, Iwo Jima’s Fun Chief.
Of course, when the party ends, the second half of deployment still remains. Howard believes the event was just what the crew needed to continue on with a renewed sense of determination.
“I think the halfway day celebration is an awesome way to keep morale high and give the crew that rejuvenation heading into the final stretch of deployment,” said Howard.
Iwo Jima, homeported in Mayport, Florida, is deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of maritime security operations to reassure allies and partners, and preserve the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce in the region.
The Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group includes the embarked 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, the USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), the transport dock ship USS New York (LPD 21), the dock landing ship USS Oak Hill (LSD 51), Fleet Surgical Team 4 and 8, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 28, Tactical Air Control Squadron 22, components of Naval Beach Group 2 and the embarked staff of commander, Amphibious Squadron 4.