Community Outreach Projects Cap Successful Baltimore Celebrations

Story Number: NNS140915-29Release Date: 9/15/2014 10:36:00 PM
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By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Amy Kirk, Navy Public Affairs Support Element East

BALTIMORE (NNS) -- U.S. and foreign military personnel worked side-by-side to complete two community outreach projects in Baltimore, Sept. 15, capping a weeklong series of events for the city's Star-Spangled Spectacular.

Sailors and Marines, along with service members from Turkey, Germany and Canada, assisted both the American Legion and Baltimore's Department of Recreation and Parks in two beautification projects.

Twenty-six volunteers from the USS Oak Hill (LSD 51), USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55), HMCS Athabaskan (DDG 282), and FSG Niedersachsen (F208) pitched in to paint, clean and perform landscaping for American Legion General Joseph Haller Post 95.

"It is awesome for us to be able to come out here, work together with foreign navies, have some fun, and give back to our vets," said Logistics Specialist 1st Class Sonja Adkison, assigned to the Oak Hill. "There have been so many fun events and activities going on all week long for the anniversary of our national anthem, but we are out here doing something a little different - showing appreciation for those who have served before us. This is a really great experience."

The 94-year-old American Legion post, which had fallen into major disrepair, is nearing the completion of a year-long restoration and organizers were very grateful for the help the military personnel provided.

"We are very grateful to the Sailors who came out here today to help the post so that we can better serve the veterans who served us years ago," said Paul Kropeld, commander, Sons of American Legion Post 95. "I think mixing the past and present, and giving service members the ability to see how their service affects others makes for a sound mission that is close to the heart."

At Carroll Park, more than 60 service members from the Oak Hill, Athabaskan Niedersachen, USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43), and TCG Kemalreis (F-247) helped with painting and graffiti removal, building picnic tables and clearing invasive weeds.

"This is an awesome opportunity," said Boatswain's Mate 2nd Class Vincent Weston, assigned to the Fort McHenry. "I love projects like this. We help out the kids by cleaning up this skate park. It's good for them and the community, too."

City of Baltimore officials understand the hectic work schedule of service members and are extremely grateful that they took time to help out in the city participating the in the Star-Spangled Spectacular celebrations.

"It feels great to have the military out here especially since they do so much for this country and to have them take time to come out here and spend a couple hours doing this for a park that means a lot to the community is wonderful," said Stephanie Helms, Weed Warriors program coordinator for Baltimore City.

Baltimore's Star-Spangled Spectacular celebrated the bicentennial of the Battle of Baltimore that provided the backdrop for Francis Scott Key's famous poem, "Defence of Fort McHenry," which later became America's national anthem.

The city's celebration included visits by more than 30 ships from the U.S. and foreign nations, as well as an airshow performance by the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels.

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