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Gunston Hall Sailors Help Moroccan Orphanage

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS051018-02
Release Date: 10/18/2005 10:13:00 AM

By Journalist 1st Class (SW) Cliff Williams, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe/Commander, U.S. 6th Fleet Public Affairs

AGADIR, Morocco (NNS) -- About 400 Sailors aboard the amphibious ship USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44) had the opportunity in October to participate in a community relations project while in Morocco.

With the ship currently completing its surge deployment and revving to get ready for the West African Training Cruise, the crew helped paint an orphanage, followed by a game of soccer and lunch with the children.

Nearly 50 Sailors armed with paint bushes and rollers transformed the chipped walls of the Orphans Boarding School for Royal Students into a crisp and clean learning environment. The teams were all over the school, with different colors including blue for the walls, yellow for the window borders and black for the exterior.

“It was good, clean fun,” laughed Seaman John Layman. “There were a lot of deck seamen who volunteered, and we're all pretty good with paint brushes, but I think the best part of the whole day was just playing soccer with these kids, who beat us very badly.”

There was no shortage of volunteers for this community relations project.

“They were not only able to complete all the painting, but still had the energy to play with the kids, joke around and even get a few kicks on the soccer field,” said Gunston Hall Chaplain Lt. Terry Roberts.

Volunteers from the Gunston Hall crew, who had been underway for several weeks prior to their arrival in Morocco, said they had no trouble devoting several off-duty hours to help the country’s orphans.

“I just like to help and volunteer to make a difference,” said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class (SW/AW/FMF) Chris Profilio, an Arnaudville, La., native. “Just being able to help put a smile on a child’s face is more than enough reward for me.”

Not only did the Sailors have a chance to see the orphanage, but some of the children also had the chance to see Gunston Hall up close. Twenty children toured the ship’s well deck, flight deck and bridge. To the Sailors aboard, the children’s happiness was evident.

The ship’s navigator, Lt. j.g. Frank Azzarello, and Seaman Tamica Jones were the tour guides for the children.

“I think it was just awesome when the kids came on board,” Jones said. “This is my first deployment, and it seems everything we do is just great. Of course, it was a little hard to understand the children, but I’m pretty sure they had a good time.”


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