USS MAKIN ISLAND, At sea
–- Sailors and embarked Marines aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) observed American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month with the creation of a special art and poetry display, Nov. 19.
The display, sponsored by Makin Island’s Diversity Committee, is located near the ship’s store and barber shop and features art and poetry from both Native American artists and Makin Island crew members.
This year’s theme is “Service, Honor, Respect: Strengthening our Cultures and Communities.” Since 1776, American Indians have contributed their courage, determination and fighting spirit to help defend America’s national interests.
“The idea for the display came from our Cultural Awareness Committee and diversity team members,” said Chief Quartermaster (SW/AW) Larry Watkins, who leads the ship’s Diversity Committee. “The display will be up for the rest of November as we recognize diversity and how its made our nation and Navy stronger.”
Watkins said he also hopes the display will help provide a greater understanding of the contributions of American Indian and Native Alaskan cultures, as well as recognize Sailors and Marines of Native American heritage serving aboard Makin Island.
Sailors who participated in the creation of the display said they enjoyed the opportunity to take part in a diversity initiative that highlights the American Indian and Native Alaskan cultures.
“I think it is important to recognize the contributions of the Native American Indians and Native Alaskans because it was their knowledge and resources of North America that helped us become the civilization we are today,” said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Renee Brown, an active member of the Diversity Committee. “Our goal is to educate Sailors and Marines on the different cultures that make up the crew of Makin Island.”
Today, American Indian and Alaska Native Sailors, officers and civilians represent the very best of our nation and reflect a long legacy of service. More than 17,000 active duty, reserve and civilian members of the Navy’s Total Force declare themselves as American Indian or Alaskan Native.
Makin Island, the Navy’s newest Wasp-class amphibious assault ship, is the first U.S. Navy ship to deploy using a hybrid-electric propulsion system. By using this unique propulsion system, the Navy expects over the course of the ship's lifecycle, to see fuel savings of more than $250 million, proving the Navy's commitment to energy awareness and conservation.
This initiative is one of many throughout the Navy and Marine Corps which will enable the Department of the Navy to achieve the Secretary Ray Mabus' 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.
Commissioned in 2009, Makin Island is named in honor of the World War II raid carried out by Marine Raider Companies A and B, 2nd Raider Battalion on Japanese occupied Makin Island Aug. 17-18, 1942. LHD 8 is the second ship to bear the name "USS Makin Island." The ship, along with more than 2,000 Sailors and Marines, departed San Diego Nov. 14 on its maiden deployment in support of the Navy’s Maritime Strategy.