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USS Bonhomme Richard, 15th MEU Deliver 75,000 Pounds of Aid Ashore

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS050110-15
Release Date: 1/10/2005 9:00:00 PM

By Chief Journalist Walter T. Ham IV, USS Bonhomme Richard Public Affairs

ABOARD USS BONHOMME RICHARD, At Sea (NNS) -- During 34 helicopter sorties Jan. 9 that covered more than 800 square miles of Sumatra, multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard's (BHR) (LHD 6) Sailors and Marines delivered 75,000 pounds of humanitarian relief supplies to Indonesian tsunami victims.

Among those deliveries, BHR Sailors and Marines transported 41 pallets of five-gallon water containers, 1,280 cases of bottled water and 12 pallets of food ashore. The ship also delivered lumber, nails and plastic sheeting to build badly needed shelters and help set up the Spanish Red Cross medical aid station.

"This has been a total Navy/Marine Corps team effort," said BHR Commanding Officer Capt. J. Scott Jones. "We're all in this together. Everybody has an important part to play."

Jones singled out BHR's culinary specialists, who have been cooking around the clock to not only feed the more than 3,000 Sailors and Marines on the ship, but have also been baking vast quantities of brownies, cookies, biscuits and cornbread to distribute to tsunami victims.

Jones also praised BHR's Combat Cargo team, led by Marine Chief Warrant Officer 2 Michael Young from Denver, Colo.

"They have been moving around thousands and thousands of pounds of materials to prepare us for these missions," Jones said. "We also couldn't do this without the men and women on the flight deck and combat cargo."

Jones said Sailors like Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) 3rd Class Jake Kushiyama from Maui, Hawaii, are doing their part to keep BHR's birds in the air.

"They do a very dangerous job on the flight deck, often working in the dark while we're conducting night flight operations," Jones said. "But they are well trained, and it shows as we launch these humanitarian missions."

According to Jones, two San Franciscans are helping to keep the ship on course. Jones said Quartermaster 3rd Class Lee Bolden has been keeping the ship safe in potentially perilous waters by tracking changes to the seabed caused by shifting of debris after the tsunami.

Jones said another Bay Area native, Lt. j.g. Tony Bellville, BHR's senior officer of the deck, has kept BHR's bridge watch teams on track.

"The bridge watch teams have been positioning the ship about four miles off the coast to shorten the distance the helicopters need to travel," Jones said.

"Every one of our Sailors and Marines is playing an important role in this mission, and everybody on the ship is doing their part," Jones said. "Bonhomme Richard is one of the mightiest warships in the history of naval warfare, and she is showing her mighty heart in this operation."

Bonhomme Richard is the flagship of Expeditionary Strike Group 5, conducting humanitarian relief operations off the coast of Sumatra.

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