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Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group Departs Guam

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070503-10
Release Date: 5/3/2007 5:04:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Dustin Mapson, Bonhomme Richard Public Affairs Office

USS BOHOMME RICHARD, At Sea (NNS) -- The Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group (BHRESG) departed Guam on May 1 after a three-day port visit.

Many Sailors and Marines participated in community service projects with local civic organizations during the strike group’s first port of call since it left San Diego for a regularly scheduled deployment on April 10.

“These [community service] projects help our Sailors and Marines experience the culture of Guam, and project a positive image of our service members throughout the community,” said Lt. Mike E. Foskett, a Navy chaplain aboard USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6).

During the community service events, Sailors and Marines volunteered their time to help beautify the villages of Agana Heights and Ordot-Chalan Pago, two of the 19 villages on Guam. The volunteers planted flowers and plants, removed trash from the roads and built a fence for a new rest area.

“Things like this are some of the best parts of our deployments,” said Foskett. “Even if we are just cleaning garbage off of a road, there is the sense of knowing that we are helping the same people that are generous enough to let us be here.”

Ordot-Chalan Pago Mayor Pete Borja said the events also brought together two groups of people who might not have had the change to interact.

“The time spent in this village allowed an exchange of cultures,” he said. “We wanted them to get acquainted with our community. The benefit of something like this is that we can come together when times are not pressing, work together and get to know each other.”

Yeoman 3rd Class(SW) Daniel R. Hoyt, who participated in the community service project at Agana Heights, agreed.

“When we do these types of projects, it shows that we want to make a difference and contribute to the places we visit,” said Hoyt, a native of Blue Springs, Mo. “It was really nice to be able to meet the local people of Guam and experience how truly kind and hospitable they are. I plan on taking part in more community relations projects in future ports. It was an all-around great experience.”

In addition to community service projects, many Sailors and Marines used their time on the island to rest up, enjoy the sunshine and shop at the Naval Base’s Exchange to stock up on a few items before getting underway again.

Some also took advantage of a scuba diving trip organized by Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) and a river boat cruise down the Talofofo River that led tour-goers through the jungles of Guam and areas once inhabited by the Chamorros, Guam’s indigenous people who first populated the island more than 4,000 years ago.

“MWR tours are a great way to get the full experience of what countries we visit have to offer,” said Intelligence Specialist 2nd Class(SW) Vincent O. Hazelton, a native of Charleston, S.C. “I have never even thought of going scuba diving and especially never thought I would go diving in Guam ... I saw a sea cucumber and a lot of different schools of fish. I even managed to find Nemo.”

Whether Sailors and Marines were taking tours, shopping or meeting with the local people, the visit to Guam was a break from life at sea.

“It was really nice to spend a little time away from the ship. It was kind of like a mini-vacation that broke the monotony of being underway,” said Operation Specialist 2nd Class Jason L. Bomers, a native of Sacramento, Calif. “I think everyone is excited to see what ports we will hit during the rest of WESTPAC.”

BHRESG is underway for a regularly scheduled deployment in U.S. 7th Fleet’s Area of Responsibility.

BHRESG consists of Amphibious Squadron 7, BHR, USS Denver (LPD 9), USS Rushmore (LSD 47), USS Milius (DDG 69), USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93), USS Chosin (CG 65), and 2,200 combat-ready Marines of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU). The BHRESG is currently under operational control of Expeditionary Strike Group 7 / Task Force 76, the Navy’s only forward-deployed amphibious force. Task Force 76 is headquartered at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa, Japan, with an operating detachment in Sasebo, Japan.

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