CHINHAE, Republic of Korea (NNS) -- USS Russell (DDG 59) arrived in Chinhae, Republic of Korea (ROK) on March 22 for a scheduled port visit prior to the commencement of Exercise Reception, Staging, Onward Movement and Integration/Foal Eagle (RSOI/FE) 2007.
The ship was officially welcomed by Commanding Officer Capt. Kim Jin Hyung and his crew from Republic of Korea (ROK) Ship Munmu the Great (DDH 976), who sponsored Russell's visit.
During the visit, Sailors had a chance to participate in friendship-building activities, meet local citizens, experience local customs and traditions, and enjoy the many recreational activities offered in Chinhae.
Twenty Russell Sailors visited the Dongjin Girls' Middle School and interacted with 7th, 8th and 9th grade students in their English classes.
Students and crew members played games that were designed to help the students with their comprehension of English. While the games and conversation with the Sailors gave the students a chance to practice their English and learn more about the United States, the Sailors also benefited by learning a bit about Korea.
"I almost needed hearing protection walking around the school. They really paid attention to what we said and they seemed to have had a blast," said Fire Controlman 3rd Class David Welsh. "They asked a lot of questions and had an ecstatic look on their faces when we told them about America. It made me appreciate where I live."
Thirty Sailors from Russell participated in both a soccer and baseball game with the crew from Munmu the Great. ROK Sailors defeated Russell by a score of 3-1.
For the baseball game, U.S. and ROK Sailors integrated teams to enhance the skills of both sides leading to a narrow Russell victory that went well into the ninth inning.
Russell's First Class Association, which has sponsored a community relationship event at every Russell port visit during the current deployment, visited Jinhae Jae-Hual-Won, a residential facility for children who are mentally challenged.
Sailors played games with the children and performed general cleaning of the building. The service project had a lasting impression on many of the crew.
"After this COMREL experience in Korea, I want to be one of their staff members," said Culinary Specialist 1st Class Frederic Tenebro. "I have this feeling and eagerness of helping them more, not just for three or four hours but also for months or years. I hope we visit again and donate school supplies and clothes."
When not working or participating in various events, Russell Sailors enjoyed many of the sites that Chinhae had to offer.
Coinciding with Russell's visit, the city held its 45th Annual Cherry Blossom Festival, an international military band and color guard festival. Crew members immersed themselves in cultural musical performances and sampled exotic foods from the host nation.
The visit, while just a few short days, gave the crew some well needed time off while still executing many important evolutions.
Russell deployed Feb. 3 and is currently assigned to the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group operating in the Western Pacific.
For more news from around the fleet, visit www.navy.mil.