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'It's a taste of Wisconsin': Local companies send holiday care packages to USS Milwaukee on deployment

USS Milwaukee stops in Detroit
Posted at 5:33 AM, Dec 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-17 19:43:49-05

This time of year many of us think about being home for the holidays. But for the men and women on the USS Milwaukee that's not the case - they have been deployed.

However, thanks to a lot of local companies, the crew will have plenty of snacks for the holidays.

Dozens of Navy-blue boxes are packed with Wisconsin products for the USS Milwaukee crew.

"A lot of people, myself included, have never been in Wisconsin or Milwaukee, so I'm looking forward to having some of the great stuff," said Commander Brian Forster, onboard the USS Milwaukee.

The Navy littoral combat ship is not only named after our city, but it was also made in Wisconsin - at the shipyards in Marinette.

Half of the sailors on board have been deployed for the first time.

"It's people from the namesake city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin knowing 'hey you're not out there alone, you got the nation behind you,'" said Commander Forster. "You're taking the sacrifice and this is what we're doing to show our appreciation for you, so it's really special for a lot of the sailors."

Retired Navy Captain Mike Good remembers those days. That's why the now-Milwaukee Navy League President helped organize the holiday care packages.

"As a guy who served on a ship and was overseas during the holidays, it's very meaningful. As a reminder for the crew, to you know, get a box of cookies or get some kind of a reminder that people are thinking of them back home."

From volunteers and organizers like Candee Arndt, to handmade chocolate-covered Oreo's with the Navy Seal logo from Ultimate Confections, and two pallets of tasty treats from Kwik Trip - it's been a team effort.

"You know, it is a taste of Wisconsin," said Theresa Nemetz, founder of Milwaukee Food and City Tours.

They package a lot of Wisconsin and Midwest products for holiday shoppers and jumped on board to help with the USS Milwaukee care packages!

"Many of the sailors aren't going to be there at home for the Christmas season and holiday season, so this is a little bit of a special treat for them," said Nemetz."

From Commander Forster, a BIG thank you: "From the officers and crew, the USS Milwaukee deployed right now, I just want to say to the people of Milwaukee, Wisconsin Merry Christmas and a Happy Holidays, and we thank you for everything that you have given us to make this deployment smooth."

The Navy says the USS Milwaukee "... will support counter-illicit trafficking in the Caribbean. Milwaukee’s operations will involve practical exercises and exchanges with partner nations, supporting U.S. 4th Fleet interoperability and reinforcing the U.S. position as the regional partner of choice."

If you want to send a holiday card to the crew while they are deployed, here is the address:

USS Milwaukee (LCS-5)
Unit 100101
Box 1
FPO AA 34085-0100

Contributions from Wisconsin companies included:

AW2 Logistics, Muskego, WI (Shipping services), Berres Brothers Coffee Roasters, Country Ovens, Just the Cheese, Knight Gourmet Popcorn, Kwik Trip, Legacy Bakehouse

Milwaukee Food & City Tours, Mike’s Country Meats, MolsonCoors, Nueske’s Applewood Smoked Meats, Ultimate Confections, Usinger’s Sausage.

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