HONG KONG (NNS) -- Seven service members were chosen to represent both the United States and USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) during a special ping-pong tournament March 9 against a team from the People's Liberation Army (PLA) in Hong Kong.
The event, which matched the talents of six Ronald Reagan Sailors and a Marine assigned to the U.S. Consulate in Hong Kong against the PLA's best ping-pong players, was just one of many goodwill and friendship-building activities that took place during Ronald Reagan's recent five-day port visit to Hong Kong.
"It was an honor to represent Ronald Reagan," said Lt. Longchau Hoang, a medical officer aboard Ronald Reagan and tournament participant, admitting that the U.S. team did not match up very well against the highly trained PLA team. "It was like a scene out of 'Forest Gump.'"
Hoang said that even when he went to shop for ping-pong supplies in Hong Kong before the match, Chinese locals would ask to a play a quick game with him.
"It was like a pick-up game of basketball in America," said Hoang.
Hoang said ping-pong is considered the national sport of China and the tournament between the U.S. and Chinese military was held in high reverence by the more than 100 spectators who gathered around the two tables to watch the games.
"The gym was silent," said Hoang. "The PLA spectators sat upright in silence while wearing military dress blue uniforms the whole game."
A total of five matches were played between two tables with each match consisting of five sets. Ronald Reagan Sailors played against generals and colonels of the PLA. Capt. Terry B. Kraft, Ronald Reagan's commanding officer, even played a match against the PLA leadership.
"We played a basketball game last year with the PLA, which was a lot of fun, but this time, they chose the sport that would really showcase their skills," said Kraft. "It was an honor to play with such great athletes."
Chief Storekeeper (AW/SW) Alfredo Argamosa, from Ronald Reagan's supply department, was the only U.S. team member to bring home a victory during the tournament.
Argamosa, who said he has played the game from his earliest years in high school through his first year in college, described his opponent as a young officer with an artistically accurate serve that was hard to return.
"The PLA were brilliant players," added Argamosa. "It was a memorable experience to play a military opponent in another county."
According to Argamosa, the event was also a chance to extend goodwill and a friendly handshake to the PLA.
"Once we arrived in the PLA compound, we were greeted with Chinese photographers taking pictures of us and filming our arrival," said Argamosa.
Ronald Reagan was commissioned in July 2003, making it the ninth and newest Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. The ship is named after the 40th U.S. president, and carries the motto of "Peace through Strength," a recurrent theme during the Reagan presidency.
The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group departed San Diego on Jan. 27 on a surge deployment to fill the role of USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63), the Navy's only permanently forward-deployed aircraft carrier, as it undergoes scheduled maintenance in Yokuska, Japan.
For related news, visit the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn76/.