USS MAKIN ISLAND, At sea - A group of Sailors and Marines serving aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8), including the ship's commanding officer, received special hand-made quilts from the "Stitchen Sisters of Michigan" quilting group, June 8.
The group of Sailors and Marines work in the ship's Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department's aviation gun shop. The common thread between them is that they all work alongside Aviation Ordnanceman Airman Tressa Williams, whose mother was behind the quilting project.
"My mom makes me quilts all the time," said Williams. "She asked for the names of the people I work with, but I never expected what would come in the mail."
The Stitchen Sisters, a group of women from Marshall, Mich., sent a total of 14 quilts to Makin Island. There was a quilt for each person in Williams' shop and an extra quilt with the name "Captain Cedric E. Pringle," the ship's commanding officer, sewn onto the bottom.
"My mother never told me that they made a quilt for the captain," said Williams. "I was completely surprised."
Williams presented the quilt to her commanding officer on behalf of her mother's group shortly after the package arrived. She received a commanding officer's coin in return, and a second coin to give to her mother for all the hard work that went into making the quilts.
"It's a great honor, and I'm going to keep it for the rest of my life," said Pringle after receiving the hand-made gift from Williams.
Pringle said he hopes to meet Williams' mother after the ship returns from its current deployment.
Williams said the Stitchen Sisters originally began making quilts for family and friends, but have since decided to start making them for deployed service members. Her mother, aunt and a cousin are members of the group which includes a total of about 20 women.
"They just get together and quilt," said Williams. "They will get together and quilt all day and late into the night for days at a time."
Williams said the group has been working on these quilts since March, and this batch of quilts sent to the ship was their greatest accomplishment to date.
"Most quilts take a lot more time to do," said Williams. "One quilt can take months by itself, so for them to have made 14 quilts in a matter of four months, must have been very time consuming because they usually only meet twice a month."
Sgt. Matthew Lacey, one of Williams' Marine co-workers, said receiving the quilt was unexpected and served as a kind gesture.
"We knew she sent something for all of us in the shop, but we didn't know what it was until we opened the box," said Lacey. "It may sound corny, but its small things like this that gets me through the day."
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 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 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 the flagship of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group that is currently deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.