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Agriculture Press Release

May 30, 2003

Sailors and Marines aboard Truman and Roosevelt carrier strike groups receive 'Welcome Home' gift of Fresh Florida oranges

NORFOLK, Va. – A taste of Florida sunshine greeted U.S. military personnel returning to American soil when the USS Harry S. Truman and the USS Theodore Roosevelt carrier strike groups arrived recently at their home port of Norfolk, Va..

The Truman carrier group returned on May 23, following a five-month deployment, and the USS Theodore Roosevelt returned on May 27 following a six-month deployment.

Fresh Florida oranges, donated by two Florida citrus growers, were distributed to thousands of disembarking sailors and Marines as they returned to their families and loved ones.

Twenty-two pallet loads of fresh Florida citrus was originally destined for American troops stationed in the Middle East. However, as the fruit was being prepared for shipment, officials with the U.S. military and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services decided to reserve eight pallet loads – or approximately 40,000 oranges – to hand out as “welcome home” presents to personnel returning aboard the Truman and Roosevelt carrier strike groups. The remaining 14 pallet loads of citrus have been delivered to U.S. troops on active duty in locations throughout the Middle East.

“We are happy to have played a role in welcoming these brave sailors and Marines back to the United States,” said Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles H. Bronson, who coordinated the citrus donation effort. “We want those who are returning home, as well at those who are still on active duty abroad, to know that Florida’s farmers support our troops.”

In April, Bronson met with U.S. military officials at the Port of Tampa to present the ceremonial first boxes of fresh Florida Valencia oranges. On hand to accept the fresh citrus were officials from the Defense Supply Centers in Philadelphia, and Tidewater, Va., which is the main office for airlifts to the Middle East.

The fresh citrus was donated by SealdSweet, located in Vero Beach, and Noble Worldwide Sales, located in Winter Haven. The 22 pallets – or 1,188 cartons – represent approximately 100,000 pieces of fresh fruit. The Florida Trucking Association donated transportation services.

The cartons of fresh fruit bear a specially designed label featuring a colorful, retro-style Florida postcard theme and “Greetings From Your Florida Farmers” and “Florida Agriculture Supports Our Troops.”

NOTE TO EDITORS: Digital images of the fresh Florida citrus aboard the USS Truman can be downloaded from florida-agriculture.com/photos. File names and cutlines follow:

05-30-03a
From left, Produce Specialist Jim Colley and Customer Support Specialist Pam Hamlett of the Defense Subsistence Office in Tidewater, Va., display the donated fresh Florida oranges that are being handed out to sailors and Marines as they disembark from the USS Harry S. Truman in Norfolk.

05-30-03b
From left, Customer Support Specialist Pam Hamlett and Lt. Commander Frankie J. Hand and of the Defense Subsistence Office in Tidewater, Va., display the the donated fresh Florida oranges that are being handed out to sailors and Marines as they disembark from the USS Harry S. Truman in Norfolk.

05-30-03c
Television news crews from around the nation covered the return of the USS Harry S. Truman, the first East Coast carrier strike group to return from the Iraq war.

05-30-03d
Thousands of family members, loved ones and well-wishers were on hand at the Norfolk Naval Base to welcome back the sailor and Marines aboard the USS Harry S. Truman.

05-30-03e From left, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles H. Bronson presents the first boxes of fresh Florida oranges to Lt. Cmdr. Frankie J. Hand, U.S. Navy, Chief, Defense Supply Center in Tidewater, Va., and Capt. Jeff Bradley, U.S. Navy, Director, Directorate of Subsistence, Defense Supply Center in Philadelphia, and during a press conference on May 1 at the Port of Tampa.

05-30-03f The 1,188 boxes of donated fresh Florida oranges bore a special label, “Greetings From Your Florida Farmers: Florida Agriculture Supports Our Troops.”


For more information:
Dan Sleep
(850) 488-4366

 


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