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    Iwo Jima Holds Air Olympics



    Story by Seaman Larry Lockett 

    USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7)

    MEDITERRANEAN SEA (September 25, 2021)—The Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) held its Air Olympics, Sep. 25.

    The Air Olympics were conducted on the flight deck with participants from multiple divisions within Air department. Teams consisted of five participants competing in mental and physical events.

    “The Air Olympics is known throughout the fleet,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Fuel) 2nd Class Jalaka Gamble, event coordinator. “However, it is more common on aircraft carriers and is not usually seen on the LHD platform. Our Air Olympics consists of a crash and salvage relay, fire drills, search and rescue, V-4 [fueling division] hose pulling relay, V-3 [hangar deck division] chock and chain relay, V-1 [flight deck division] fire station relay, and more.”

    The event was a chance for different divisions in air department to experience each other’s profession and to build comradery amongst Sailors.

    “This was really a good way to step out of our comfort zone,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Fuel) 3rd Class Emmanuel Holmes. “My team and I had to overcome some obstacles we had never faced before. As a “fuelie” [Aviation Boatswain’s Mates (Fuel)], we usually don’t chock and chain vehicles. That was one of our more difficult events.”

    The winning teams were awarded medals ranking from bronze to gold, similar to the Olympics celebrated every four years. However, the first-place winning team also received 48 hours special liberty to use while the ship is inport.

    “The most difficult obstacle for my team and I to overcome was not knowing what to expect,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) Airman Nathan Reyes, a crash crewman and member of the first-place winning team. “As crash crewman, my team and I train frequently for our job, and that training has definitely helped us win some of these events today. With the stress of our job, and most jobs in air department, this was a great way to unwind, have some fun, and bond with our entire department.”

    The ship’s air department leadership and the event coordinators are hoping this event will become an Iwo Jima tradition.

    “We are trying to make this an annual event,” said Master Chief Aviation Boatswain’s Mate Jessica Hendon, air department’s leading chief petty officer. “It has been beneficial in team building and morale. This event has built unity within our department, with air department having so many different divisions, schedules and locations, we rarely get the chance to come together, especially in an event like this.”

    The Air Olympics ended with the winners being awarded and a barbeque on the flight deck.

    "This was a great opportunity after more than seven months of exceptional performance by air department to pay the team back with a day of fun and comradery in a friendly competition,” said Cmdr. Joseph Simpson, Air department head. “The competition focused on different skill sets from around Air Department so that no one division had an advantage. It was a great fun but it also built an appreciation for what our brothers and sisters in each other's divisions do every day."

    Iwo Jima is underway as part of the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group comprised by USS Carter Hall (LSD 50) and USS San Antonio (LPD 17), Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) FOUR, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and embarked units.

    For more information about USS Iwo Jima (LHD7) visit us on Facebook at or



    Date Taken: 09.25.2021
    Date Posted: 09.29.2021 17:24
    Story ID: 406365

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