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Around The Fleet

From Monk to Buddhist Chaplain

Returning home to serve two nations

Curiosity led a young novice monk, Aroon Seeda, towards a site where U. S. Marines had set-up camp.

At the age of 13, Seeda was asked what brought him to the camp. He replied, "I'm a monk...I work for food." The Marines told Seeda to hold on as they ran to their tents and returned with a MRE [meal-ready-to-eat]. From that moment a friendship was formed.

"They followed me to the temple and they give me one pen with the American flag and they helped me do my homework," said Seeda. "It inspired me to want to learn more about English and want to see the world. You put a seed of happiness...of friendship into somebody's heart."

Thirty years later, Seeda now a lieutenant and Buddhist Chaplain, returns to his native country of Thailand back where that seed was planted for Cobra Gold 2017.
Photo collage of Marines working with locals in Thailand and Lt. Seeda with locals.

"I never had a chance to serve Thailand," said Seeda. "Now I get an opportunity to serve both countries at the same time. On top of that I'm a Buddhist chaplain. It's amazing."

Cobra Gold 17 is the largest joint exercise in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region focusing on community engagement and medical care to support the needs of civilians. It's an integral part of the U.S. commitment to regional support.

For more on Cobra Gold 2017, click here.