USS Oscar Austin, HSM 72 Sailors Visit Latvian Children's Hospital

Story Number: NNS140630-06Release Date: 6/30/2014 1:12:00 PM
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By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class DJ Revell, Navy Public Affairs Support Element - East

RIGA, Latvia (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to USS Oscar Austin (DDG 79) and Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 72 participated in a community relations (COMREL) project while the ship made a port visit to Riga, Latvia, June 29.

Sailors assisted Latvia's largest children's hospital by cleaning out a warehouse and also spent time with some of the children.

"It was very rewarding to be able to come out here and help, said Aviation Structural Mechanic 3rd Class Shaun Darnell. "With our efforts, the hospital can concentrate their time and efforts for the kids."

The Sailors removed old hospital furniture and supplies no longer in use that was in the warehouse. Later, the hospital's director gave COMREL participants a tour of the hospital.

Sailors were also able to interact with the children of the hospital, showing videos of helicopter operations and allowing them to try on air crew gear.

"It felt great to be able to interact with these kids and show them some of our gear we use for helicopter operations as well as some videos of it," said Aircrew Survival Equipmentman 2nd Class Michael Haines. "They were a little shy at first, but they seemed to enjoy what we had for them and it was great to be able help out today."

Oscar Austin, home ported in Norfolk, Virginia, is conducting naval operations with partners and allies in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in order to advance security and stability in Europe.

U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied, joint, and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.

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