NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS) -- Two Sailors from USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) returned Sept. 26 from a 150-day individual augmentee (IA) assignment on board USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) as part of Pacific Partnership 2008.
Seaman Andrew Kipfer of 2nd Division Deck department and Seaman Michael Pryor of 1st Division Deck department, deployed with Mercy May 1, to support its mission of providing aid and relief to foreign countries.
The goal was to help strengthen relations in Southeast Asia and Oceania by making port visits to Nha Trang, Vietnam; Chuuck, Micronesia; Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea; Cotabato, Philippines; and the Southeast Asian country of East Timor, among others.
"It was a good experience," said Pryor. "There are a lot of people in those regions that need help, because they don't always have the facilities or money to get treated."
Surgeries ranging from separating webbed fingers to tumor removal as well as general medical care were offered to those in need.
Medical personnel from from Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, Japan, Chile, Australia and the Republic of Korea, joined the U.S. military on this mission of comapssion.
Kipfer said he also received stitches from a Japanese medic after accidentally cutting himself in the scullery on board.
"With everyone coming together for the same mission and helping others out, I feel like it's a great way to help gain allies," said Kipfer. "What better way to do that?"
Pryor and Kipfer were sent as food service attendants (FSA), but they didn't stop there. They also helped out at the patient clinics by taking vital signs and organizing the crowds of people that came for treatment.
With long 15-hour workdays and the deployment coming to an end, both Kipfer and Pryor are relieved to be back at work here on Carl Vinson, where they will work toward the ship's Complete Crew Move Aboard goal. They both, however, agree they are glad to have had the experience firsthand to understand what our Navy is doing for others.
"One team, one fight doesn't just apply to the Navy," said Pryor. "It applies to everybody and other countries, and I got to see that for myself."
For more news from USS Carl Vinson, visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn70/.