By Chris Tomlinson
ABOARD THE USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT – The crew of the USS Theodore Roosevelt celebrated Halloween with a door-decorating contest, improvised jack-o’-lanterns and the ship’s mascot donning a ghost costume to trick-or-treat through the aircraft carrier’s passage ways.
While the business of launching jets to attack Taliban and al-Qaida targets in Afghanistan continued, some of the ship’s 5,500-person crew celebrated Halloween as best they could, and in remarkably ingenious ways.
Mechanics in the airframe department fashioned a 3-foot jack-o’-lantern from fiberglass, welding rods, old rags, papier-mache and orange paint. Petty Officer 2nd Class Courtland of Big Piney, Mo., said the sailors in his section spent their free time over four days to build the pumpkin.
“I think its kind of a nice change of pace from working on airplanes,” Courtland, 21, said. “Something out of the ordinary.”
Members of the aircraft carrier’s crew are identified only by their first names for security reasons.
Because they work the night shift, waking up at 6 p.m. and working until noon the next day, Halloween celebrations began late Tuesday.
In addition to making pumpkins, the morale, welfare and recreation department organized a door-decorating contest. The airframe department decided to participate in that as well, hanging a painting of Dracula in a Transylvanian cemetery. One of the gravestones was for Osama bin Laden, leader of the al-Qaida organization and the prime suspect in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
In the air operations department, Petty Officer 3rd Class Michele, 21, and Airman Marlene, 19, decorated their door with an inflatable Frankenstein and drawings of bats and pumpkins.
Breaking the routine of daily 12-hour or more shifts by celebrating holidays on ship, even during wartime, is important for the crew’s morale, said Kim Watkins, the Theodore Roosevelt’s morale officer.
“It’s like ‘Groundhog Day,’ the movie where the same thing happens every day,” said Watkins, a civilian from Louisville, Ky. “We try to help people get away from the mundane.”
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