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Daughter of Collinsville couple defends freedom for the holidays

By By Wendy Bodetka\Special to The Star
Dec. 30, 2001
ABOARD USS BATAAN As the holidays approach, many Americans are shopping, cooking and getting everything in order for their families to enjoy this special time of year.
For the sailors aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD-5), currently on a six-month deployment to the southwest Asia region in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, the holiday schedule consists of something completely different: watches, maneuvers, patrols and tactical operations the duties of protecting America against the threat of terrorism.
Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Tasha M. Howell, daughter of John and Gailyn Howell of Collinsville, is one sailor whose holidays will be spent defending the United States.
With its unique capabilities to land Marines ashore, the amphibious assault ship has played a vital role in the war on terrorism. Each one of the ship's 1,000-member crew and 2,000 embarked Marines has a job to do to ensure the success of the mission.
Some of the most exciting rewards about serving in the Navy are the different ports Sailors get to see around the world. Due to heightened security, this deployment is cutting back on port visits to ensure the safety of the crew and because of the importance of the mission. Port visits will be made only to replenish supplies and food for the crew.
Serving in the world's finest Navy has many rewards, but also means sacrificing spending time with loved ones during the holidays.
For sailors like Howell, the meaning of this holiday season is to protect American values and way of life, so Americans at home can enjoy the chimes of bells and the singing choirs during this season, and the sounds of freedom forever.
Wendy Bodetka is a journalist assigned to the U.S. Navy's
Public Affairs Center in Norfolk, Va.

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