ABOARD USS PELELIU -- Marines and Sailors aboard the USS Peleliu, currently deployed with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) gobbled up a well-deserved Thanksgiving meal Nov. 27.
The cooks and messmen aboard the ship, a work crew composed of Marines and Sailors, began working hard the night before preparing for the big feast.
"The night crew started preparing all of the food and we came in this morning at 5:30 to continue the preparation," said 25-year-old Sgt. Michael S. Almendarez, galley supervisor for the troop mess deck, Marine Medium Helicopter 163 (Reinforced).
The food prepared was so plentiful that Marines and Sailors were welcome to help themselves to seconds if they desired. But for those who enjoyed the Thanksgiving meal, portion servings were large enough that one plate was able to fill them up. Plates overflowed as crewmembers went through the food line, which was served by the officers and senior noncommissioned officers.
According to Almendarez, the cooks prepared 3,000 portions of each food item for the ship's more than 2,000 crewmembers.
Some of the food listed on the menu was fried turkey, beef, honey-glazed ham, candied-sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, simmered-green beans, and a variety of gravy and assorted desserts.
Another important feature of the Thanksgiving meal, which didn't go unnoticed, was the meal presentation.
According to Almendarez, they worked hard on the food presentation because everyone is away from their loved ones. A special table was dressed with food and all sorts of Thanksgiving decorations to put everyone in the festive mood while they enjoyed their meal.
"Thanksgiving is a big day for us," he said. "We've all been working really hard to make sure everything was precise to cater to the Marines and Sailors."
For many of the Marines and Sailors on their first deployment, the special meal helped with some of the homesickness on Thanksgiving Day.
"I thought it was better than what it was going to be," said 20-year-old Lance Cpl. Eric E. Wynn, deployable data system network specialist, Communications Detachment, Marine Expeditionary Unit Service Support Group 13, who is on his first deployment. "I thought we weren?t going to have anything special at all, but we actually had a pretty good dinner."
"They changed the entire environment of the mess deck and made it feel more relaxed," he said. "I think they did a really good job."