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John S. McCain Sailors Provide Aid to Tsunami Victims

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS050405-07
Release Date: 4/5/2005 11:11:00 AM

By Ensign Alex Lowe, USS John S. McCain Public Affairs

HONG KONG (NNS) -- During the latest Destroyer Squadron 15 port visit to Hong Kong in February, a group of Sailors from USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) and USS Gary (FFG 51) spent a day doing relief work for the victims of the tsunami that occurred Dec. 26.

Through the community service coordinators aboard the ships, about 25 Sailors volunteered to work for a Hong Kong-based organization called "Crossroads International."

Crossroads is a registered non-profit organization whose original focus was to aid in the plight of the children of Africa. Today, its relief efforts spread across the globe, building schoolhouses, aiding victims of natural disasters and, in this case, redistributing Hong Kong's quality-superseded goods.

The teams of volunteers, including travelers from as far as the U.S. and Nigeria, were divided into various jobs, including carpentry work on the Crossroads buildings, electrical installation and safety work, as well as packing items such as hospital beds, clothing, old furniture and carpets in order to ship them overseas.

Sailors aboard McCain described the event as a rewarding experience, as they were able to help those in need while building ties with the local community.

"It's not what you get from it; it's what you give," explained Community Service Program Organizer Ship's Serviceman 1st Class (SW) Gil Villanueva.

Aboard John S. McCain, he sees many of the same volunteers for the community service projects.

"Many people are already eager for whatever community service opportunities await in the next port," Villanueva said.

"[It was] a positive [experience] in that we were able to do something for the victims of the tsunami - thousands of miles away," said Chief Fire Controlman (SW) Thomas Wholters.

Operations Specialist 1st Class (SW) Jason House was impressed by the wide scope of the program and the number of volunteers it draws daily.

"You don't realize that there are that many people in the world that care," House said. "You get a chance to see the other sides of ports, and to meet people who share the same concerns that you have."

Operations Specialist 3rd Class (SW) Leo Kennedy agreed.

"I loved it and want to do it again," he said. "It was for a great cause and boosted morale. This was my first community service project, but won't be my last."

John S. McCain is assigned to Destroyer Squadron 15 and the Kitty Hawk Strike Group, operating from Yokosuka, Japan.

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