PANAMA CITY, Panama (NNS) -- Navy Fleet Logistics Squadron (VR) 58 flew passengers to Panama City May 31 for a crew swap aboard Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20).
The VR 58 "Sunseekers," based out of Jacksonville, Fla., flew more than 70 Navy Reservists, U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) professionals, representatives of several non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and college medical students to Panama City in a C-40A Clipper aircraft.
"It's tremendously rewarding, taking folks like that," said one of the flight's pilots, Cmdr. Bo Moore, of VR 58. "They're doing a great service to their country working on Comfort, and it's great to be a part of that mission. A lot of times, we get to bring people back from long separations from their families, and that's another thing that's just awesome to be a part of. We do everything we can to get them home quickly and safely."
Comfort is currently on its fourth scheduled port visit during Continuing Promise 2009 (CP09), a four-month humanitarian and civic assistance mission to Latin America.
All eight of the crew rotation flights scheduled during Continuing Promise 2009 were scheduled by the Naval Air Logistics Office. During this crew swap, Navy Reservists, and members of USPHS, NGOs and medical students replaced another group of more than 60 personnel who had been working aboard Comfort for the past month.
"They did an amazing job in some extremely underprivileged countries," said Chief Hospital Corpsman (FMF) Pamela A. Branum, Comfort's operational support officer in the outgoing group. "Enough can't be said about their professionalism. We had people from all kinds of different career fields coming together for one mission."
The vast majority of the service members were Reservists from all over the country. They conducted medical operations in Antigua; Barbuda; and Colon, Panama, and enjoyed Cartagena, Colombia as a liberty port.
"We were very blessed to be received by the host nations," said Cmdr. Tim Labrosse, a Reservist from Seattle, who worked in Comfort's dental department. "It was a very spiritual and emotional event, and we were always inspired to do more than the work we did the day before."
During the deployment, Comfort is under the operational control of U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command, and U.S. 4th Fleet.
For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/cusns/.