Operation Gratitude Visits USS Ronald Reagan 
By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Terry Godette, USS Ronald Reagan Public Affairs  
BREMERTON, Wash - Sailors aboard USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) received more than 2,500 Operation Gratitude care packages in an all-hands call held in the ship's hangar bay with several special guests Jan. 24.

Carolyn Blashek, founder of Operation Gratitude and Michael Reagan, son of former President Ronald Reagan attended the event.

They, along with other Operation Gratitude members, took time to thank the crew for their service and recognized the success of the work done thus far in Reagan's docking planned incremental availability (DPIA).

"I love giving back to the ship and seeing the crew every time I come here," said Reagan. "You did a good job preparing the ship to get out of the yards."

Operation Gratitude is a non-profit, volunteer-based organization that sends 100,000 care packages annually filled with snacks, entertainment items and personal letters of appreciation. The packages are delivered to everyone from U.S. service members deployed to hostile regions around the world, to their children left behind and even wounded warriors recuperating from war. Their mission is simple: lifting morale and expressing the appreciation and support of the American people.

"Our brothers and sisters in uniform have inspired us, the American people," said Blashek. We represent all Americans, and we want the troops to know that we care about them."

Sue Jensen-Pollard, a volunteer with Operation Gratitude, spoke to the crew as well. She told stories about her sons who both served in the military, her eldest dying in combat.

"That's why I do this; to keep my son's name alive and to thank you all for what you do every day," said Pollard.

The guests shared hugs and stories with the Sailors as the packages were being distributed.

Reagan crew members were appreciative of the group's generosity.

"It's good to know that someone cares," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Fuel) Leilani Thompkins, from Ft. Bragg, N.C. "I have watch tonight, but
it's good to know I'll have this package waiting for me."

Reagan is currently homeported in Bremerton, Wash., while undergoing a DPIA maintenance period at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility.
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