USS GEORGE WASHINGTON, At Sea (NNS) - USS George Washington (CVN 73) pulled out of its forward operating port of Yokosuka, Japan Nov. 24.

While most Americans are gathered around the Thanksgiving table spending time with family and friends, the 5,500 crew members of the Navy's only forward-deployed nuclear powered aircraft carrier are busy underway.

"Being underway this Thanksgiving gives us a different perspective on the blessings we have in our lives; the opportunity to serve our great country and the shipmates we get to work with everyday," said Washington's commanding officer, Capt. David A. Lausman. "I'm extremely proud of our crew who are enjoying this time together and truly thankful for their professionalism and patriotism."

Chaplains aboard Washington organized a prayer service to kick-off the Thanksgiving feast. During the service, they invited those in attendance to stand and share what they were thankful for.

Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class Jaima Mavity of Williston, N.D. was the first to stand.

"I woke up this morning and I was so excited to come here just to be thankful, there is so much in life to be thankful for, I'm so grateful for all that God has blessed me with," Mavity said.

Other Sailors are proud to be able to serve their country on Thanksgiving.

"I'm thankful that my family is doing well and I'm glad they are able to enjoy their Thanksgiving at home while I'm here assisting in protecting them," said Electrician's Mate Fireman Apprentice Joseph Eversole of Beaufort, S.C.

As the crew knew when the ship was pulling out of port, many took time to celebrate Thanksgiving in the days prior to leaving. And while the actual holiday was spent underway, many looked on the bright side of spending this Thanksgiving with their shipmates.

"I work in a small shop so the people I work with all have a tight bond," said Electrician's Mate 3rd Class Julio Aponte of North Bergen, N.J. "I'm thankful to have good mentors and to be spending this time with these people that are like family to me."

But those getting the most praise from the crew aboard Washington this holiday are the hard working Sailors in the ship's galley who spent weeks planning a traditional Thanksgiving meal with all the trimmings: turkeys, mashed potatoes, cranberries, sweet potatoes, green beans, pumpkin pies, apple pies, cherry pies, pecan pies and ice cream. All American goodies for the forward deployed Sailors.

Culinary specialists and food service attendants aboard Washington worked nearly 12 hours straight cooking, serving and cleaning up after the Thanksgiving feast.

More than 2,500 pounds of turkey, 300 pies and nearly 500 quarts of egg nog were brought to make this holiday meal for the hungry Sailors a reality.

"Seeing all of the smiling faces and watching the lines go down and hearing each person say 'thank you' made it worth all of the time and hard work we put into making today special," said Culinary Specialist 1st Class Wenonah P. Ebreo of Atadena, Calif.

Lines stretched from bow to stern with some waiting more than two hours for their chance to sit down and enjoy the Thanksgiving feast. And every Sailor aboard GW said the wait was well worth it.

"The food was delicious, I'm very thankful for anyone that had a hand in putting the Thanksgiving meal together," said Seaman Michael Morris of Suffolk, Va.

The George Washington Carrier Strike Group (CSG) will join Republic of Korea (ROK) naval forces in the waters west of the Korean peninsula from Nov. 28 to Dec. 1 to conduct the next exercise in the series announced at the 2+2 meetings in July.

For more news from USS George Washington, visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn73.