USS Harry S. Truman, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors from USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) volunteered their liberty to three community relations projects during a four-day port visit to a Middle Eastern port Feb. 17-21.
Lt. Cmdr. Daniel Mode, a chaplain aboard Truman, said Sailors participated in a variety of projects which included guiding horses for disabled children, visiting disabled children in their classrooms and doing projects with children with autism.
"What I liked best about the (community relations projects) COMREL was seeing Sailors experience something radically different from a shopping mall or a tour," said Mode. "It is something that allows us to integrate with the local community."
Chief Fire Controlman (SW/AW) Raymond Luck, combat systems maintenance manager, said these projects are important for both Sailors and the host country.
Luck explained Sailors are able to learn about the host country, and it is good for the host country to see Americans interested in their country and willing to help.
"I think everybody should participate in a COMREL at least once during a cruise because Sailors get a chance to go out and see the local communities on a different level," Luck said.
Fire Controlman 1st Class (SW/AW) Brian Jantzen, a leading petty officer in the combat systems department, said the best part was learning about the local people, seeing how the school takes care of their students with special needs and playing ball with the children.
"One student introduced us to his whole class and recited a long poem because he was so happy to see us," said Jantzen. "By giving your time, you receive pride in accomplishing something good and the knowledge that you helped somebody out."
Mode noted community relations projects help strengthen the bond with the local community in countries all over the world.
"We should come with an expectation that we're building upon a relationship," Mode said. "We want to build relationships not for this year but for years to come so the host nations are happy when we come to visit them and know that we provide something good in order to become better neighbors."
For more news from USS Harry S. Truman, visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn75/.