The phrase “Eh, howzit?” can be heard on the decks of the U.S. Navy ship USS Tarawa, currently somewhere in the Persian Gulf, as several Kauaians are among the sailors and Marines aboard, participating in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Kaua’i native Lanelle Hawthorne, whose maiden name is Raposas, is one of those Kauaians aboard, and sent a reporter at The Garden Island an e-mail telling of reading the newspaper daily online, at www.kauaiworld.com
“I read The Garden Island online to keep up with what’s going on back home,” she wrote. The articles regarding Kauaians at war “just made me want to say that everyone’s thoughts and prayers are very much appreciated,” said Hawthorne.
“On our ship we have two from Kaua’i,” one raised on this island and another who has lived here for some years, she said.
“We don’t work with each other, but in passing always smile and say, ‘Eh, howzit?'” she said.
“I am very proud to be here serving my country and protecting everyone back home. Keep up the great job on the news. I read it daily to see what’s going on,” she added.
“Until next time, take care.”
Other known Kauaians aboard the Tarawa are Travis Ancheta and William Carlson.
There are over 2,000 Navy personnel and around 2,200 Marines part of the three-ship Tarawa Amphibious Ready Group, whose main mission is to land Marines ashore, and sustain them, during hostilities.
Many of those Marines, likely, landed in Kuwait, and are now part of the march to Baghdad. The Tarawa (LHA-1), dubbed “Eagle of the Sea,” is a general-purpose amphibious warship, resembling a small aircraft carrier.
It carries or carried a portion of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, and earlier this year left its home port of San Diego for what was supposed to be its 12th Western Pacific deployment.
At sea, her commander received orders to head for the Persian Gulf.
The ship is no stranger to conflict, having responded to Aden, Yemen, after the USS Cole took a terrorist bomb.
Sailing alongside the Tarawa is the USS Duluth, and aboard that ship is the U.S. Navy’s Chad Mohr, 21, son of Scott and Ilona Coffey. He works in deployment, getting Marines and equipment from ship to land.
“We pray for him daily,” his parents said.
The USS Rushmore is the third ship in the Tarawa group.
The Tarawa, 820 feet long and weighing in at 40,032 tons (that’s over 80,000,000 pounds), has offensive and defensive missile systems, traditional guns of naval warfare, and helicopters, Harrier Jump Jets (which can take off and land like helicopters) and landing craft.
The ship can cruise up to 24 knots (27.6 miles per hour).
Watch for an updated list of Kaua’i men and women serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom in the Friday morning edition of The Garden Island.