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Petty Officer 1st Class Luis R. Martinez, left, and Petty Officer 3rd Class Mike Mears arrange cloverleaf rolls Wednesday in preparation for Thanksgiving dinner on the USS La Salle in Gaeta, Italy.
Petty Officer 1st Class Luis R. Martinez, left, and Petty Officer 3rd Class Mike Mears arrange cloverleaf rolls Wednesday in preparation for Thanksgiving dinner on the USS La Salle in Gaeta, Italy. (Lisa Horn / S&S)
Petty Officer 1st Class Luis R. Martinez, left, and Petty Officer 3rd Class Mike Mears arrange cloverleaf rolls Wednesday in preparation for Thanksgiving dinner on the USS La Salle in Gaeta, Italy.
Petty Officer 1st Class Luis R. Martinez, left, and Petty Officer 3rd Class Mike Mears arrange cloverleaf rolls Wednesday in preparation for Thanksgiving dinner on the USS La Salle in Gaeta, Italy. (Lisa Horn / S&S)
Members of the galley crew take time for a picture amid preparations for Thanksgiving dinner Wednesday on the USS La Salle in Gaeta, Italy. Left to right are: Petty Officer 3rd Class Brandon Rasmussen Wolff, Seaman Karl Brummer, Petty Officer 1st Class Luis R. Martinez, Petty Officer 3rd Class Mike Mears, Lt. Baker Turner and Petty Officer 1st Class Ricky Sotello.
Members of the galley crew take time for a picture amid preparations for Thanksgiving dinner Wednesday on the USS La Salle in Gaeta, Italy. Left to right are: Petty Officer 3rd Class Brandon Rasmussen Wolff, Seaman Karl Brummer, Petty Officer 1st Class Luis R. Martinez, Petty Officer 3rd Class Mike Mears, Lt. Baker Turner and Petty Officer 1st Class Ricky Sotello. (Lisa Horn / S&S)

GAETA, Italy — Preparing Thanksgiving dinner for several family and friends can be difficult, but how about feeding a ship full of sailors?

The galley crew on the USS La Salle, the flagship of the 6th Fleet, has spent the past three days preparing for the feast that will take place aboard the ship Thursday afternoon. Between 200 and 250 sailors, family members and friends are expected to go through the serving line.

In preparation for the dinner, the ship’s cooks have been working 16 to 17 hours a day, in addition to cooking regular meals for the crew.

“We get here at 4:30 and we don’t secure until 8 o’clock at night,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Luis R. Martinez. “This meal is by far the most challenging.”

About 170 pounds of turkey, 20 pounds of cranberry sauce and 300 pounds of potatoes are just some of the numbers ordered for the crew’s consumption.

Prime rib au jus and shrimp cocktail will also be served. Normally, those dishes are served once or twice a year, Martinez said.

There will also be a spread of cornucopias made entirely of braided dough, plus potato roses on celery stalks.

“Most people can’t go home. That’s why the cooks are here to do the best they can,” said Lt. Baker Turner, USS La Salle food service officer.

“We’re one big family,” Martinez said. “We try to treat each other like brothers and sisters.”

And just like at home, sailors on the La Salle can expect to enjoy their Thanksgiving meal several more times during the next few days ... in the form of turkey sandwiches.

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