Ronald Reagan Strike Group Lends Helping Hand in Malaysia

Story Number: NNS060612-03Release Date: 6/12/2006 12:11:00 PM
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By Illustrator/Draftsman 1st Class (SW/AW) Michael J. Obney, USS Ronald Reagan Public Affairs

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (NNS) -- More than 350 Sailors from USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) and embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 14 took part in a number of community service projects during their port visit to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, June 3-5.

For Cmdr. Brent Scott, Navy chaplain and department head for Reagan's command religious ministries department, this was an evening he had been waiting for.

"It was overwhelming to see all the Sailors filling up the foc'sle and spilling out into the passageways, all wanting to volunteer their time," said Scott.

Scott coordinated the community projects with Ivan Christie, a local Malaysian volunteer, who acts as a liaison between the applying charities, the U.S. Embassy and visiting ships.

The different projects were selected by the embassy based on specific criteria.

"The [community service projects] were selected based on the number of days the ship would be in port, the amount of work needed to be done at each site, and time available for the completion of each project," said Scott. "For this sign-up rally, there were Sailors standing in line for more than 90 minutes. At the end of the sign-up rally, more than 350 Sailors signed up to volunteer their time and service to the local community."

There were a total of four projects chosen for Ronald Reagan Sailors: Angel House for Children, Praise Emanuel Children's Home, Shelter Home for Children and Shelter Home for Girls.

All projects required a number of odd jobs to be performed, including landscaping, painting, renovations and garbage removal.

"It is unusual for [project] sites to require painting, but all four [community service projects] together required 70 gallons of paint," said Scott.

The Shelter Home for Girls was the only site with specific requirements; all of the volunteers had to be female.

"We had 20 volunteers turn out for this [community service project]," said Scott. "They were the hardest working, most energetic group of ladies I have ever seen. They got to the site and immediately began organizing what work had to be done, how it had to be done and what order it would be done."

Some of the projects included a potentially exhausting task - playing with children.

"I felt like I couldn't have spent my time in a better way," said Personnel Specialist Seaman Michael Rafetto, of Cary, N.C. "I wasn't originally signed up for this [community service project], but a slot came open. I worked it out with my liberty buddies, and I signed up."

Rafetto came up with a number of ways to entertain the children.

"I looked in my book bag and found a little ball and a tin of candy, so I played catch and shared my candy with the children," said Rafetto. "I just made due with what I had."

Behind the scenes of any community service project, there are a number of logistical challenges to overcome to ensure its success.

"Supply department has been a tremendous support of all the [projects] we wanted to undertake for this port visit," said Scott.

Some of the supplies needed for the different projects included paint brushes, paint, box lunches, transportation and drinking water.

"One of the limitations to a ship's [community service] success or failure is transportation," Scott said. "Chaplains tend to shrink the number of volunteers to decrease strain on the ship's liberty transportation requirements. In every single port the ship has pulled into, supply department has ensured there was independent transportation for the [projects]."

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USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) prepares to enter Port Klang for a scheduled port visit.
060603-N-7130B-345 Port Klang, Malaysia (June 3, 2006) - USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) prepares to enter Port Klang for a scheduled port visit. This port call marks the first time Reagan has visited the country of Malaysia. Ronald Reagan and embarked Carrier Air Wing Fourteen (CVW-14) are currently on a regularly scheduled deployment in support of the global war on terrorism and maritime security operations. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 2nd Class Aaron Burden (RELEASED)
June 5, 2006
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