USS Ashland Visits Malta
Story Number: NNS050418-07
Release Date: 4/18/2005 11:53:00 AM
By Journalist 1st Class (SW) Cynthia Clark, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe/Commander, U.S. 6th Fleet Public Affairs
VALETTA, Malta (NNS) -- The crew of the dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48), along with Marines from elements of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, visited the Mediterranean island country of Malta April 9-13.
The country offered many things to keep Ashland Sailors and Marines busy on their off-duty time. Tours offered the Upper Barraca Gardens, St. John's Cathedral and even a trip to the small island of Gozo, which included the Blue Grotto Cave, the hanging window in Dwejra Bay and the Ggantija temples, which date back to between 3600 and 2400 B.C.
“I loved the tour. It was like Malta History 101,” said Information Systems Technician 2nd Class (SW) Penny Ledet, Morale, Welfare and Recreation assistant tour coordinator. “The tours let you see another side of the island, away from all the nightclubs and businesses.”
Many Ashland Sailors and Marines took some time from their tours, shopping and relaxing by assisting the local community with three different community relations projects.
According to Religious Program Specialist 2nd Class (FMF) Roberto Barney, Battalion 2/8 chaplain's assistant, the first project was helping the Little Sisters of the Poor, a nursing home, move into their new location.
“The sisters were very grateful,” Barney said. “Moving into their new building would have been a lot of work for them. We helped them move furniture, cleaned their roof, cut vegetables in their garden; we saved them about seven or eight months worth of work. It was very rewarding.”
The helpful visit to the Little Sisters of the Poor was extra special for Ashland Sailor Information Systems Technician 1st Class (SW) Tija Handy, as this marked her third visit to the convent.
“I helped plant a garden for them in 1996, when I was on the USS Mount Baker (AE 34),” Handy said. “Then, I went back when I was on the USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20) in 1999. It was wonderful; I enjoy helping people who are less fortunate.”
Ashland’s do-gooders weren’t done yet. According to Barney, the Sailors and Marines also worked on a garden at the Fatima House for homeless young women from ages 18-30. More Sailors and Marines brightened the world for the St. Joseph’s Home for Boys by cleaning windows and painting.
“Working at the home for boys was a beautiful experience,” said Boatswain's Mate 2nd Class (SW) Neasia Quinones. “The architecture was beautiful. They had us put primer on the wall, another group knocked down a wall for them - we really made a difference. They were very grateful and made us feel very comfortable. The chaplain in charge of the home took us on a tour of Mdina, the silent city, afterward and bought us all pastries. It was a productive day.”
After an eventful and helpful visit to Malta, it was time for Ashland to head back out to the Mediterranean Sea to continue operations with the USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) Expeditionary Strike Group and make a difference in other places around the world.
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