BY LT. J.G. DOUG C. CHICO, SC, USN, SALES AND SERVICES OFFICER
AND MC3 EVAN DENNY, USN PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICE, USS IWO JIMA (LHD 7)
The amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) celebrated the recent reopening of its newly renovated ship’s store during a ribbon-cutting ceremony on March 20. The remodeling, which began in late December, and was completed in February, was a huge success. The sales and services division and Navy Exchange Service Command (NEXCOM) coordinated to make this endeavor possible, as the process included various authorizations, funding documents, and detailed planning. As NEXCOM covered the cost of the renovation, the ship’s store will repay the Navy Exchange for the cost of construction over the next three years.
“You always want to make a ship look better,” said Capt. James Midkiff, commanding officer of Iwo Jima. “It looks like a 7-Eleven® in here now; it looks so much better. This is one of the best ship’s stores I’ve ever seen.”
The ship’s store is a centerpiece of Iwo Jima’s culture as it is not only a store, but a beacon of pride for the ship. One-hundred percent of the store’s profits go toward funding the ship’s quality-of-life programs, and the store’s prices are often lower than civilian competitors. The new signs displaying, “Your Ship, Your Store,” accurately capture the crew’s pride about their newly-branded store.
As part of the renovation, the number of shelves in the store was increased by 25 percent and the refrigerators for the cold drinks were moved to the back of the store to improve efficiency. “We love the store’s new look,” said Ship’s Serviceman Seaman Junince Sistrunik. “The new layout allows us to have a greater variety of items in the store at one time.”
After the renovation process is complete, the typical store realizes an increase in sales, which, in turn, boosts morale as additional funds are available for various events like discounted tours while on deployment and other programs.
“I’ve noticed that the crew is happier,” said Ship’s Serviceman Seaman India Smith. “They don’t mind making the trip down here from their spaces. They want to come down to the store themselves and see it. The store before was boring, and now that we’ve updated it people say, ‘Wow!’”
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Sailors pose for a photo with Capt. James Midkiff, commanding officer of the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), during a ribbon cutting ceremony for the newly-renovated ship’s store. Iwo Jima is underway conducting a series of qualifications and certifications as part of the basic phase of training in preparation for future operations and deployments. –U.S. Navy photo by MC2 Hunter S. Harwell
One of the most impressive features of the store is the heritage wall, which depicts the iconic flag raising on the island of Iwo Jima and the warship named for the famous battle. This heritage wall is a reminder that during the battle of Iwo Jima “uncommon valor was a common virtue.” Last month, one of the survivors of the battle of Iwo Jima, former Marine Cpl. Bob Gasche, took the time to address the crew to commemorate the 72nd anniversary of the flag raising atop Mount Suribachi. In fitting fashion, the heritage wall is a daily reminder of the sacrifices of the Sailors and Marines who fought on the island.
With the newly renovated store, Sailors aboard Iwo Jima are all smiles. The entire crew can be truly proud of the store.