US Navy officers do community work during visit


Heavy clearing: Some US sailors cleaning up the area at the welfare home Bukit Harapan in Kota Kinabalu. — NORMIMIE DUIN/The Star

KOTA KINABALU: A group of sailors from the United States Navy who arrived here on a four-day visit recently are making their stay more worthwhile by doing community work and visiting charitable centres here.

They were divided into teams and went to different shelter homes and rehabilitation centres. One of the centres they visited was Seri Mengasih centre — a rehabilitation school for the mentally disabled.

Upon arriving at Seri Mengasih, students and staff greeted them with warmth before leaving the visitors to carry on with their chores such as fixing the rooftops, repairing the workshop and cleaning the gutters while others had activities with the students.

The group of about 40 navy sailors were part of the 5,000 crew members who arrived in Kota Kinabalu on USS John C. Stennis (JCSSG), one of the 10 largest United States Navy aircraft carrier.

The sailors were then divided into two groups, a group to have activities with the children and another to clean the school compound.

The children literally could not take their eyes off the visitors while those who were not so shy took all opportunities to stick with them and mimicked dance moves they did in the event.

Sailors were also genuinely glad to be able to make the children happy, and hugged some of the children before they left in the afternoon.

Gifts and tokens of appreciation were also exchanged between the school and the sailors after the event.

The sailors led by Lieutenant Jose Bautistarojas also visited the Bukit Harapan charity shelter home and had similar activities with the residents who were mostly disabled.

The centre’s ecstatic residents welcomed the 40 over navy personnel with songs and laughter.

Bautistarojas explained that it was the US Navy’s custom to conduct community service at every port they dock.

“All of us are really happy to be here, and to see the joy we bring to these children, we hope to come back again soon if there is an opportunity,” he said.

The sailors also visited the St. Jospeph’s Chapel in Penampang near here and left on Oct 4.

The JCSSG is currently deployed in the US 7th Fleet area of operations conducting at-sea training and co-operative engagements with regional partners before making its way into the US 5th Fleet.

The strike group consists of aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9, guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53), and destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 21.

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