MANAMA, Bahrain (NNS) -- Taking a break from playing a role in the global war on terrorism, USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 3 Sailors and Marines lent a helping hand by participating in a community relations (COMREL) project while the ship was in port here Dec. 13-18.
During Truman’s port visit, 20 Sailors had the chance to pitch in with a beautification project, painting a wrought-iron fence at a local special-needs school.
According to Chaplain Lt. Leroy Mack, COMREL projects are a common event for most port visits overseas. “We coordinate with the in-country chaplain, who lets us know what kind of COMREL opportunities are available,” said Mack.
It’s an all-volunteer effort, and this time Truman and CVW-3 crew members came out in droves to help.
People volunteer for various reasons, said Mack. “Some just want to help, but some want to meet different people and experience culture. Some volunteer to show their skills at a particular job.”
“We just felt it was a good thing to do,” said Operations Specialist 3rd Class (AW) Julia Shannon, one of the volunteers. “Kids would wave at us as they passed by. It was good to show them we can do our part and show our good will.”
Mack said most COMREL projects - whether they involve planting trees or renovating a building, attract at least one dedicated crewmember who takes charge of the effort. Chief Electronics Technician (SW/AW) Todd Kepner supervised the effort this time - something he’s been doing for years.
“I’ve done this ever since I’ve been in the Navy,” said Kepner, who has volunteered with Habitat for Humanity and other charities at home in the U.S. Kepner said a little elbow grease for a good cause is never a bad thing, especially for Sailors.
While Truman is visiting a foreign port, it’s always a chance to show the American flag and serve as ambassadors for our nation, said Kepner. COMREL is a great way to pay our respects to the host nation and to show our benevolent intent, he added.
“It’s an opportunity to spread the good will of Truman and the United States,” said Mack. “It helps for people in foreign countries to see America in a [positive] light.”
There should also be many more opportunities to come during future port visits, Mack added. “It’s our intent to do one during every port [visit] if security or our other mission responsibilities don’t affect it,” he said.
The USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) Carrier Strike Group departed its homeport of Norfolk, Va., in October and is currently deployed to the 5th Fleet area of responsibility providing a forward presence and support in the Global War on Terror.
The Truman and CVW-3 team departed Norfolk, Va., Oct. 13, for their second deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and the Global War on Terror.
For related news, visit the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn75.