BAY OF BENGAL (NNS) -- While in Singapore for a Feb. 7-11 port visit, more than 150 Sailors assigned to the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) Carrier Strike Group participated in a number of community service projects to benefit local residents.
These projects included cleaning a horse stable that provides riding lessons for disabled children, gardening and maintenance at a residential care center for AIDS patients, spending the day with children at a local swimming pool, and collecting spare change on the quarterdeck to donate to a local children's charity.
Reagan's projects were coordinated by the ship's Religious Ministries Department, with help from the Religious Ministries Department at Commander, Logistics Western Pacific (COMLOG WESTPAC) in Singapore.
"They really appreciate our coming and sharing our time with them," said Lt. Cmdr. Roger Vanderwerken, Reagan chaplain, who led Reagan's cleanup efforts at the riding stable.
Sailors worked for nearly five hours to remove brush and overgrown tree branches, as well as cleared a fence of debris, from a pasture at the facility.
"It's the only place of its kind. Horses who are saved after a life on the track are trained to be gentle and carry children who are disabled around," said Lt. Cmdr. David Bynum, COMLOG WESTPAC chaplain.
According to Chief Interior Communications Electrician (SW/AW) Vincent Griego, who volunteered for the riding stable project, taking part in these activities is one of the most rewarding parts of going on a deployment.
"What we can accomplish here in one day might take them three or four weeks, so it helps them greatly," said Greigo.
According to Religious Programs Specialist 1st Class Eugene Trinidad of COMLOG WESTPAC, the local community was more than happy to see Reagan Sailors taking part in efforts to improve their community.
"In Singapore, we don't get many local volunteers to help in this kind of activity," said Trinidad. "So when a ship comes into port, we see a great turn out. It shows the locals that the U.S. Navy is not just a war vessel, but a tool of peace."
In addition to the projects, more than $750 was raised for charity by placing collection boxes on both the enlisted and officer brows of Reagan for leftover Singapore currency. Sailors donated their spare change after returning from liberty ashore, and the money was donated to a local children's charity.
Rear Adm. Michael H. Miller, commander of the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group, said he was overwhelmed with the number of Sailors who volunteered their liberty time to help leave a lasting, positive impression of the United States on the people of Southeast Asia.
"From the renovation of a home for disadvantaged children, a riding center for the disabled and multiple medical care centers, to swimming and interacting with special needs children, our Sailors gave their time, their impressive skills, and their hearts - and for that I am extremely grateful," said Miller.
Commissioned in 2003, Reagan is the Navy's newest Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and is currently underway on its maiden deployment in support of the global war on terrorism and maritime security operations.
Operating in the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean, the U.S. 7th Fleet is the largest of the forward-deployed U.S. fleets, with approximately 50 ships, 120 aircraft and 20,000 Sailors and Marines assigned at any given time.
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