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PHOTOS: Acclaimed Cartoonists Drop by USS Enterprise to Sketch for Troops

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

The USO and National Cartoonists Society (NCS) just wrapped up its week-long USO/Armed Forces Entertainment tour to the Middle East, with an interesting pit stop.

During the weeklong trip to U.S. bases in Southwest Asia, the group made history by landing onto the USS Enterprise, the world's first nuclear powered aircraft carrier and the U.S. Navy’s oldest active duty vessel, which is currently on its 22nd and final deployment.

Among those who made their spirit-lifting rounds downrange are NCS President Jeff Keane (“The Family Circus”), Jeff Bacon (“Broadside” and “Greenside”), Dave Coverly (“Speed Bump”), Tom Richmond (MAD Magazine), Rick Kirkman (“Baby Blues”) and Sam Viviano (MAD Magazine).

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Cartoonists arrive aboard the USS Enterprise by a U. S. Navy Seahawk helicopter. During their time on board the group talked with troops, drew sketches and posed for photos.

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BN1 Timothy Wayne Lumpkin, Warner Robbins, Ga., explains and demonstrates the whistle system of sounds used to notify USS Enterprise crew members of upcoming events as the USO group of cartoonists look on. The cartoonists were in the region as part of a weeklong USO entertainment tour.

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Cartoonist Rick Kirkman autographs a book for U. S. Navy CTR2 Henry T. Anderson, 23, from Sumpter, S.C., while aboard the USS Enterprise on Aug. 29.

“The Enterprise isn’t just a ship, but the people who’ve served on her," said Kirkman, who completed his third USO tour. "The people we met on this tour made us feel welcome and secure. It was a tremendous pleasure and honor to get to know them for that short time. The Enterprise will always have a special place in my memories.”

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Cartoonist/USO tour veteran Tom Richmond takes time out to draw personalized sketches for sailors and Marines stationed aboard the USS Enterprise.

“Getting an opportunity to spend time meeting and talking with the men and women serving on the USS Enterprise was a true privilege," Richmond said. "We all feel grateful to have been a small part of the final deployment of this legendary vessel, to see first-hand the dedication and pride of the crew and officers and to spread a few smiles around among those making great sacrifices to serve and protect our country. It's our honor to be allowed to do these trips.”

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Cartoonist Jeff Bacon poses for a photo with U.S. Navy CS3 Kyle Maliszewski, 20, from Imlay City, Mich.

“It was an honor – and quite humbling – to spend some time with the men and women in the Enterprise Strike Group," Bacon said. "I have heard it say that this is 'the next Greatest Generation' and I could not agree more. Our nation’s defense is in good hands. We can’t thank the USO and the Navy enough for giving us the opportunity to give back to those who serve."

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U. S. Navy Lt. Commander Charilie Ardinger, 46, an Aircraft Handler from Springville, Minn., explains how military aircrafts are prioritized and moved onto the USS Enterrpise's flight deck as cartoonists Tom Richmond, left, and Sam Viviano listen.

"The pride shown in this great ship, from the Admiral and Commander to the newest crew members, was awe-inspiring," Viviano said. "It was indeed a privilege to spend some time with them to express our gratitude for their service to our country."

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U. S. Navy Aviation Electronics Technicain, Brandon Justice, 24, from Rock Creek, Ohio, explains flight deck operations to cartoonist Dave Coverly.

"What a privilege to spend four full days – very full days – with the amazing men and women who keep the Enterprise running like a well-oiled machine," Coverly said. "Their skill and dedication was amazing, as was their pride in the ship itself. It was a genuinely moving experience and a lifetime highlight."

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Cartoonist/USO tour veteran Jeff Keane takes time out to pose for a photo with U. S. Army Captain Caitlin Taylor, 31, from Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.

“These were four days I will always remember," said Keane, who is on his third USO tour. "Not only because of getting the chance to take part in the last voyage of the legendary Enterprise but the opportunity to meet her extremely dedicated crew. Through this USO tour, I, once again, was able to meet the people who we all should be proud and extremely grateful are willing to serve our country."

(Photos by Mike Clifton - USO / Produced by Christian Pelusi) 

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