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Juneau, 31st MEU Arrive in Philippines for Goodwill Visit

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070226-09
Release Date: 2/26/2007 1:47:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Adam R. Cole, Task Force 76 Public Affairs

SUBIC BAY, Republic of Philippines (NNS) -- Sailors of USS Juneau (LPD 10), along with embarked Marines of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), arrived here Feb. 23 for a scheduled port visit which included a chance to donate time for goodwill activities and community outreach.

Dignitaries of both nations’ militaries met aboard Juneau, solidifying what is already a strong and historic partnership between the United States and the Republic of Philippines.

“The United States and Republic of Philippines enjoy a special and historic relationship that builds on the strong ties between our two peoples,” said Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 7 Rear Adm. Carol M. Pottenger, the type commander for all amphibious assets, including Juneau in the 7th Fleet area of operation. “We hope to further build those ties with Juneau’s visit and through the projects planned here, and look forward to an even stronger relationship going into the future.”

A portion of the ship’s 400-person compliment of both Sailors and Marines offered free medical and dental services to more than 800 patients in Olongopo City and helped renovate Our Lady of Peace Mission in Aeta Resettlement.

In addition to the two civil-military projects, the Navy dropped off 26 palettes of clothing, food and community necessities donated by Project Handclasp and Marine and Navy family members in Okinawa, Japan, to Naval Forces Northern Luzon, who will oversee distribution to Filipino settlements in the region.

Base chapels in Okinawa donated 100,000 pesos (about $2,000) collected from their religious offering funds to Sister Eva Maamo, founder and director of Our Lady of Peace Mission, according to Cmdr. Manuel A. Biadog, 31st MEU chaplain.

“We look forward to helping this beautiful area, whose people have an inner beauty that makes this place special,” said Lt. Frank Munoz, Juneau’s command chaplain and community service project coordinator. “We have come here with a genuine spirit to uplift the community here and hope that through our supplies and efforts, we can achieve that.”

Juneau and the amphibious ships of Sasebo, Japan have made a number of visits to Subic Bay as the port serves as a primary staging area for bilateral relations with the armed forces of the Philippines, including the recent Amphibious Landing Exercise (PHIBLEX) held in October 2006.

Past community service projects here have included renovation to the local school, including Gordon Heights Elementary.

“Because of this ongoing relationship, we feel extremely privileged to carry on the torch of this well-founded partnership,” said Capt. John D. Alexander, Juneau commanding officer. “I am confident that the fine Sailors and Marines that are part of this crew will be ambassadors for the U.S. and work on the ground level to sustain our partnership and friendships.”

Juneau is part of the Sasebo, Japan-based Essex Expeditionary Strike Group, which serves under Commander, Task Force 76. Task Force 76 is the Navy’s only forward-deployed amphibious force and is headquartered at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa, Japan, with an operating detachment in Sasebo, Japan.

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