USS San Diego
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141205-N-QC631-049 ARBIAN GULF  (Dec. 5, 2014) - Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Stacy Atkins Ricks, from Detroit, Michigan, poses with a handcrafted pillowcase sent by members of the Heads at Ease Pillowcase Project, an organization that makes and mails pillowcases for deployed service members. Heads at Ease shipped nearly 600 handmade pillowcases to the crew of amphibious transport dock ship USS San Diego (LPD 22). San Diego is a part of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group and, with embarked 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Gerald Dudley Reynolds/Released)
USS San Diego Moved By Operation Pillowcase: Putting Heads At Ease
ARABIAN GULF -- Just in time for the holidays, Sailors and Marines aboard amphibious transport dock ship USS San Diego (LPD 22) received a very special shipment of goods Dec. 5 in hopes of placing heads at ease.

Members of the Heads at Ease Pillowcase Project, an organization that creates and ships handmade pillowcases for deployed service members, sent nearly 600 pillowcases to the crew of San Diego. Each of the pillowcases came with a personal message of gratitude attached for its new owner.

“I hope you like our pillowcases, I am thankful that you serve this country,” wrote one contributor.

Sailors and Marines assigned to the ship and the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) gathered in the administrative office of San Diego to choose from a wide selection of unique pillowcases.

As one Sailor exited the office gleefully carrying a newly selected, brightly colored sack, others looked on with wide eyes asking, “Where did you get that?” Within moments the tiny office was filled with Sailors and Marines waiting for their turn to select a pillowcase of their own.

The assembly of crewmembers for this event was just as wide as the selection of basic to heavily patterned pillow covers supplied. A mound of them, ranging from tie-dye and sporty looks to florals and animal prints, sat atop the counter of the office inviting each Sailor and Marine to make a personal selection.

Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Maurice Harris took his time at the counter as he browsed the colorful collection of cases, careful to select the perfect one.

“He’ll love this,” he said as he pulled a brown cloth adorned with sporty bats and baseballs from the massive assortment. A smile on his face as he carried on in hopes of sending this small token comfort back home to help a loved one sleep a little better.

“When I saw the pillow case I immediately thought of [my son],” said Harris. “I’m so grateful that they were thinking of us out here and were kind enough to send these cases to us.”

While some servicemembers made their selection with a loved one in mind, others concentrated on how they were going to brighten up their personal spaces aboard the ship.

“I loved the colors so much that I’m going to hang a pillow case in my shop or my rack,” said Interior Communication Electrician 3rd Class Jaanicia Giles, from Pensacola, Florida. “These gifts couldn’t have come at a better time since we are in the holiday season. This is the kind of thing that makes us remember that people are thinking of us back home and we all could use that from time to time.”

The San Diego crew expressed gratitude for the generous gesture by posting pictures with their handcrafted cases on the ship’s Facebook page. Command Master Chief Kenneth Robertson conveyed his own gratitude with a personal message to accompany the post.

“We feel honored and appreciated by what Heads at Ease has done for us,” said Robertson. “To help make our holiday away from our loved ones special sends the right message to the crew.”

The Heads at Ease Pillowcase Project has crafted and shipped nearly 51,000 pillowcases to deployed service members as of November 2014. A project in the making since early September, the 600 handmade pillowcases received by San Diego this week was just one shipment of the many waves to follow. The organization posted a goal of 1,000 cases for San Diego to its online forum and encouraged members to continue to contribute.

San Diego is a part of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group and, with embarked 11th MEU, is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.
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