Navy’s top officer and enlisted sailor celebrate Thanksgiving aboard USS Ronald Reagan
Stars and Stripes November 23, 2023
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Just days after returning from a monthslong deployment, the crew aboard the USS Ronald Reagan celebrated Thanksgiving alongside the Navy’s highest-ranking officer and most senior enlisted sailor.
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Lisa Franchetti and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy James Honea boarded the carrier in its berth at Yokosuka on Thursday. They helped reenlist 10 sailors and then joined the crew for a Thanksgiving feast.
“Traditionally, our supply department goes all out for Thanksgiving, whether we’re in port or on deployment,” Senior Chief Matthew White told Stars and Stripes during the meal.
Between bites of turkey and prime rib — carved and served by Franchetti and Honea — the sailors rubbed shoulders with the distinguished visitors and discussed their personal and professional lives.
Meeting Franchetti, who was confirmed as the first female chief of naval operations on Nov. 2, was especially inspiring for Petty Officer 1st Class Brittany Robinson.
“I think it’s awesome she’s paving the way for women,” the aviation ordnanceman told Stars and Stripes during the feast. “If she can do it, we can do it, too.”
Franchetti and Honea weren’t the Ronald Reagan’s only Thanksgiving visitors. Dozens of family members joined about 120 sailors in the carrier’s aft enlisted mess hall, where food was served to anyone, on or off duty.
The carrier returned to Yokosuka on Sunday after concluding an annual Indo-Pacific patrol that began May 23.
Ahead of the meal, Franchetti voiced her appreciation to the family members who scarify and hold down the fort while their sailor is away.
“They are the glue that holds our Navy together; they’re your family and your support team,” she said during a brief speech ahead of the meal. “They sacrifice a lot for us, and they make a difference, so I want to say thank you for that.”
Honea echoed those sentiments and acknowledged the family members who can’t see their sailors on Thanksgiving.
“We get deployed all over the world, and sometimes we have to leave our extended families back home - our brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, moms and dads,” he told the crowd. “Wherever you happen to be, you have to make new connections; we become one another’s brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles.”
Franchetti and Honea are making their way through the Indo-Pacific as part of Franchetti’s first international trip since her confirmation.
On Wednesday, the pair met with Adm. Ryo Sakai, the Japan Maritime-Self Defense Force’s chief of staff, at Camp Ichigaya in Tokyo to discuss U.S.-Japan operations and integration, according to a Navy news release that day.
Franchetti mentioned her meeting with Sakai during an after-meal interview with Stars and Stripes but emphasized that spending time with sailors is also a critical part of her job.
“Having the opportunity to recognize the contributions that this team made to the stability to the Indo-Pacific — all the relationships they built, all the port visits they got to make — I really wanted to come out here with [Honea] and show that gratitude,” she said.