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Posted: Tuesday, September 4, 2012 3:37 pm

Sailors receive letters from Enterprise Elementary students

USS ENTERPRISE, At Sea -- Members of the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise’s Coalition of Sailors Against Destructive Decisions (CSADD) organization recently took some time out of their various operational commitments to answer a few pieces of mail.

While underway on its 25th and final deployment, Enterprise received dozens of letters from the students of Enterprise Elementary School in Enterprise, Fla. These letters were then distributed to Sailors throughout the ship, including members of Big E’s CSADD and the First Class Petty Officers Association, who later took the time to write the students back during one of the organization’s meetings.

The Enterprise to Enterprise connection was not lost on those answering the mail.

“It felt like the history of this great warship reached all the way back to the states,” said Legalman 2nd Class Ashley D’Aunoy, a native of Mandeville, La. “It’s amazing that the story of the Enterprise name is so legendary, it is a part of our nation’s youth’s story.”

The letters and cards were written by the Enterprise Elementary School’s 3rd, 4th and 5th graders as a part of the “Letters to Sailors” campaign, which was started a few years ago by Chris Folcik, president of the Navy League of the United States Daytona Beach Area Council.

The initiative is similar to a pen pal program and gives students in the United States the opportunity to ask Sailors questions about the ship, as well as tell deployed Sailors a little about themselves.

“It was a lot of fun answering the questions they had,” said D’Aunoy. “I made an effort to make the responses just as colorful and creative as they did for us. I believe I speak for all of the CSADD members who participated in this when I say that we had a great time supporting this project.”

It is fitting that a batch of letters arrived aboard Big E courtesy of Folcik’s program. The “Letters to Sailors” founder served aboard the Big E in 1964 and remembers what it is like to be underway.

“In the middle of a tour at sea, you’re getting into the doldrums,” said Folcik. “There’s no end in sight and the morale starts to drag.”

The letters from the students of Enterprise Elementary were meant to help lift that morale of the crew and provide Sailors with a touch of home.

Those who received the letters, many of which were decorated with drawings or patriotic sentiments, were more than happy to write back to the students in Florida to let them know what life at sea is like and to say “thank you” for the mail.

“I really liked the letters because the students took their time to write us and it shows they appreciate what we are doing out here,” said Yeoman 2nd Class Alonte D. Horn, a native of Oceanside, Calif., a CSADD member and letter recipient.

The students of Enterprise Elementary also sent crew members a flag to fly while deployed. The flag was flown by the Navigation Department and mailed back to be flown in front of their school.

“There’s so much appreciation of the military even at this young age,” said Folcik. “When I speak to the students, they’re very interested in what’s going on in the Navy.”

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