Luke Christos, 6, of New Milford, has gained a fast friend thanks to his passion for ships.
During the past year, the local boy became very fond of ships after taking his first family cruise vacation on the Disney Dream.
This experience piqued his curiosity for famous ships throughout history, including the Titanic. He and his parents, Louis and Dana Christos, began to build a model of the fated luxury ship in early spring.
When Mrs. Christos learned a local friend and New Milford resident, Michelle Hunt, was going to see her son Jamie, 20, off on his naval deployment from Norfolk, Va., in March, an idea was sparked.
Would Luke be able to write to Jamie while he was at sea?
When Mrs. Hunt returned from seeing Jamie off, she presented Luke with a photo of Jamie, as well as a photo of the ship, the USS Enterprise VIII (CVN 65), along with his address.
Luke was thrilled, according to his mother, that he would have a pen pal who is working on a Navy ship. Not only would this bring back the "old school" art of being pen pals, but it also would be exciting to take turns writing to one another and reading the letters.
Luke immediately began to write Jamie a letter and sent along a drawing of the USS Enterprise. He also hung up the photo of Jamie and the ship in his bedroom.
More recently, Luke, who will soon start first grade at Northville School, received his first letter from Jamie.
The letter was very special to Luke because it included a commemorative medal made for the Enterprise. He also learned Jamie had attended Northville School.
The two have a new bond, writing and learning about one another. Luke and his little sister, Zoe, just mailed a care package to Jamie for his birthday, with many non-perishable items, including magazines, potato chips, candy and some personal care items such as hand wipes, soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes.
"Luke cannot believe he has a friend on a naval aircraft carrier who also went to Northville Elementary School," Mrs. Christos said. "The relationship that Luke is building with Jamie via letters is so valuable ... it helps Luke continue his reading and writing practice throughout the summer and he is learning about `ship life' while the Enterprise is at sea."
Luke has family ties to the U.S. Navy, too. His great-grandfather was a naval officer who spent more than 25 years in the service. One of the many ships he served on was the aircraft carrier USS Lexington.
"Luke and Jamie hope to meet in person when Jamie returns from deployment," Mrs. Christos said. "Luke was very excited to meet Jamie's girlfriend, Crissie, in June. Luke gave her a big smile and bear hug because he understands how much she misses him."
The USS Enterprise, known as Big E, is scheduled for decommissioning Dec. 1 at Norfolk Naval Station in Virginia.