GULFPORT, Miss. (NNS) -- USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) Sailors have joined a team of Canadians and North Carolina State University students in the mission to clean up Gulfport, Miss.
The Sailors arrived at Camp Hope March 3, following a 15-hour drive from the ship's homeport of Norfolk, Va.
The Sailors, students and volunteers from our northern neighbor all arrived here with the same mission in mind: to help the people of Gulfport and Long Beach rebuild after the hurricane.
"It's a great sense of unity down here," said Aviation Machinist's Mate Airman Scott Colon. "I've made it a point to get to know some of the volunteers by finding common interests and striking up conversations with people I usually wouldn't talk to."
The college students are taking their spring break vacation time to help the people of the Gulf Coast region, and consider this a great opportunity to give something back to the community.
"It's amazing how we've all come together from many different places to help the people of the area," said Jeff Wilkins, a campus minister from N.C. State. "I think one thing we have learned is that we are not so different. I have encouraged my people to get to know all of the volunteers while we are here, and one thing they have discovered is that members of the military are not so different from anyone else. When there are people in trouble, service members want to help out just as much as anyone else does. It's really all about people helping people down here."
Truman Sailors are not only getting to know people from around the country, but also getting to know Sailors from their own ship. On a ship as big as Truman with as many as 3,100 Sailors, it's very possible to be stationed with someone and never meet them.
"I know I've seen some of these guys around before, but this is the first time I've talked to most of them," said Aviation Support Equipment Technician 3rd Class(SW) Joshua Coral. "I think this is a great opportunity for all the Truman guys to get to know other volunteers, including other Truman Sailors."
The Truman volunteers worked in Gulfport at Camp Hope until March 12 when they returned to Norfolk, where the ship is undergoing a 10-month Dry-docked Planned Incremental Availability.
For related news, visit the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn75/.