Thanksgiving with Coast Guard Station Annapolis

Story and photos by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jasmine Mieszala

The autumn air was crisp. Laughter grew louder as the sound of shuffling feet approached. The aromas of turkey and stuffing filled the air. It was Thanksgiving Day, it was lunchtime and the crew was hungry.

Thanksgiving is a holiday usually spent with family, but there will always be Coast Guard crews on duty, unable to take time off. For food service specialists, this means helping to create a sense of morale and an atmosphere of celebration. What better way to create morale than to serve everyone’s favorite, home-cooked Thanksgiving meal?

“Being away from family during the holidays is overwhelming in a way,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Jacob Wieduwilt, a boatswain’s mate at Coast Guard Station Annapolis, Maryland. “I’m originally from St. Louis and sometimes it’s hard to get back home. It really makes you feel left out.”

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For the duty crew, the Thanksgiving meal is a way to come together and spend time with their second family when they aren’t able to spend time with their real family at home.

“We all come together,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Scabis, a food service specialist at Station Annapolis. “We push all the tables together to make it one big table. We are one big family, but now we’re eating like one big family, too. It’s really cool.”

Scabis said he begins cooking early in the morning to make sure he has plenty of time to complete the turkey and all of the side dishes.

Though there is already plenty of food to go around, the local community also brings food to the duty crew on Thanksgiving.

“We’re in a great community,” Wieduwilt said. “We enjoy all of the extra desserts.”

After the holiday meal, the entire crew helps clean up before retiring to the recreation room or TV lounge.

“When the crew enjoys the food, I feel like I’ve done my job,” said Scabis. “It always matters, but it’s really important this time of year. It feels good to bring a little bit of home to the crew members on duty who can’t actually be home.”

“Last year, we put up the Christmas decorations and decorated the Christmas tree after Thanksgiving dinner,” said Wieduwilt. “I’m sure we’ll do it again this year.”

Station Annapolis held a change-of-command ceremony this summer during which Senior Chief Petty Officer William Krukowski joined the crew as the officer in charge. Instead of spending Thanksgiving at home with his family, he will be joining the duty crew for Thanksgiving dinner and to spend the rest of the evening with them.

“This year, I chose to spend time with the crew because they are my extended family,” said Krukowski. “I want them to know that even though they may have to be away from their families during the holidays, their hard work and dedication does not go unnoticed.”

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The holiday season is a time of coming together, bonding and making memories. The crew of Station Annapolis does just that each year.

Happy Thanksgiving and happy holidays!