November 28, 1997 in Nation/World

It Was Spuds, Not Scuds, For Sailors In Gulf

Adnan Malik Associated Press

The Persian Gulf was a nontraditional setting for a very American custom Thursday as U.S. sailors and airmen celebrated Thanksgiving with turkey, candied yams and pumpkin pie.

Rear Adm. Michael G. Mullen helped serve some of the 5,800 service members aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington.

“This is just like mom used to make,” Mullen said as he scooped some mashed potatoes for airman Eugene Kennedy Jr. of Philadelphia.

The aircraft carrier had 1,500 pounds of whole turkeys and 1,400 pounds of turkey roll for the festive meal.

The George Washington arrived in the Gulf last Friday as the United States and Iraq exchanged threats and demands amid an ongoing weapons inspection crisis.

Despite tension caused by the mission, Thanksgiving brought thoughts of home.

“I’d break my leg to go home,” said Anthony Sawyer, another Philadelphia native. He said he has yet to see his daughter, Anecia, who was born Sept. 29.

The holiday on the ship began with a religious ceremony.

“We are here - away from our loved ones, away from our families, away from our native land to preserve our freedoms and protect the peace,” said Chaplain James P. Nickols.

For many however, there was work as the carrier prepared to launch 90 sorties.

“Today is no different from other days,” said Petty Officer David Tew of Stockbridge, Va. “We have the same amount of work as we always did.”

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