SAN FRANCISCO - A group of 150 Sailors and Marines from the embarked 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit serving aboard amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) attended a luncheon Oct. 4 sponsored by American Legion Cathay Post 384 as part of San Francisco Fleet Week (SSFW) 2012 activities.
Asian cuisine was served to highlight the rich Chinese heritage of Cathay Post 384 members and remind Sailors and Marines about the contributions of Asian veterans who have served in the U.S. military.
In addition to honoring Makin Island Sailors and Marines as part of SSFW, the luncheon also exposed them to the programs and goals of the American Legion.
"The American Legion helps petition the politicians at local and national levels to improve the benefits for veterans and are currently advocating for full funding of the military," said Nelson Lum, the second vice commander of Cathay Post 384. "They also help veterans find jobs."
Lum said he feels it is important for the American Legion to take part in community relations programs like SSFW.
"It's one of the major reasons I'm a part of the American Legion", said Lum. "We truly believe that without the Marines, Airmen, Sailors and Soldiers, our country would not be as strong as we are, nor would it be the land of the free."
Many Sailors and Marines admitted to not knowing much about the American Legion before attending the luncheon.
"I didn't realize how much they do for the community and veterans, such as lobbying in congress", said Capt. Sarah Culbertson, a Marine assigned to Combat Logistics Battalion 1. "It was pretty exciting to learn how widespread their influence is and what all they do for us."
Culbertson said she is supportive of strong community relations between service members and the local community.
"Lunch with the American Legion was a great experience for our junior enlisted Sailors and Marines," said Culbertson.
Sailors and Marines who attend the event said they were graciously welcomed with smiles and handshakes by members of Post 384.
"The members were fantastic because they really interacted with us," said Chief Aviation Structural Mechanic Carlos Dave, a Makin Island Sailor who attended the event. "We didn't even get into the door before they made us feel warm and welcome. We enjoyed being here."
SSFW 2012 Oct. 3-8 will bring more than 2,500 Sailors, Marines and Coast Guard personnel from four ships to the city of San Francisco in order to highlight the personnel, technology and capabilities of the sea services.
In addition to Makin Island, other ships taking part in SSFW 2012 include guided missile destroyers USS Preble (DDG 88) and USS Spruance (DDG 111) and U.S. Coast Guard high endurance cutter Sherman (WHEC 720).
Makin Island recently returned from a seven-month deployment and was the first U.S. Navy ship to deploy using a hybrid-electric propulsion system. By using this unique propulsion system, the ship saved over $15 million in fuel costs and the Navy expects to see fuel cost savings of more than $250 million, over the course of the ship's lifecycle. Lessons learned during Makin Island's maiden deployment prove the Navy's commitment to energy awareness and conservation and will positively influence future ship designs for several decades.
This initiative is one of many throughout the Navy and Marine Corps that will enable the Department of the Navy to achieve the Secretary of the Navy's energy goals to improve our energy security and efficiency afloat and ashore, increase our energy independence and help lead the nation toward a clean energy economy.