Makin Island Sailors and Marines Celebrate the New Year at Sea 
By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Ethan Tracey, USS Makin Island Public Affairs 
USS MAKIN ISLAND, At Sea - Sailors and Marines deployed aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) celebrated the arrival of 2012 with a day of Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) festivities, including a "Jingle Bell" 5k fun run on the flight deck, sports in the hangar bay and a special holiday meal, Jan. 1.

The Jingle Bell 5K fun run kicked off the day of MWR activities. Light rain showers did not stop the 5K run this time, which had been rescheduled from a previous MWR day last month due to uncooperative weather.

"The weatherman lied again," joked Kristen Venoy, Makin Island's "Fun Boss" and host of the New Year's events. "Nothing stops the Makin Island!"

Venoy said a lot of hard work went into the event and that preparations for the New Year's Eve party and MWR day started several months prior to the ship's deployment.

"Happy New Year Makin Island," said Venoy. "I can't wait to see what 2012 has in store for us."

A live cable television feed of the New Year's Eve celebration in New York's Times Square was shown in the ship's hangar bay on a big screen to help the crew countdown to 2012. As part of the festivities, sparkling cider was served to Sailors and Marines who were encouraged to raise their glasses to celebrate.

Later in the day, teams of five service members competed in a tug-o-war competition. Other activities held during MWR day included basketball, ping pong and a special "Cinema at Sea" movie in the hangar bay.

"I enjoyed getting to play ping pong today; it was my favorite part," said Pfc. Robert Mista, assigned to the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) currently deployed aboard Makin Island.

Makin Island's food services division prepared a special meal for the event that included more than 3,000 dinner rolls and more than 1,300 pounds of turkey.

"We started cooking 40 turkeys at 2 a.m. to prepare the meal," said Culinary Specialist 1st Class James Nagle, who supervises Makin Island's galley operations. "Each one took more than four hours to cook."

Ham and steaks were also served to the crew, along with stuffing and yams. Cheesecake was the featured desert of the day with 120 of them being served to the crew.

Makin Island and the 11th MEU departed San Diego Nov. 14 and are currently deployed supporting the nation's maritime strategy.

Makin Island 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 life cycle, 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 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.

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."

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