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Comfort Bridges Coast to Coast

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070905-02
Release Date: 9/5/2007 9:35:00 AM

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kelly E. Barnes, USNS Comfort Public Affairs

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (NNS) -- Two Coast Guardsmen from worlds apart were reunited aboard hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) on Sept. 3, nearly two years after they attended the U.S. Coast Guard Health Services Technician "A" School in Petaluma, Calif., together.

U.S. Coast Guard Health Services Technician 3rd Class Amauri Fernandez and Haitian Coast Guard nurse Lamothe Eliezer met again when Eliezer embarked Comfort as an interpreter.

"It was so exciting to see him again," Eliezer said. "My joy is indescribable."

Eliezer was able to keep up with Fernandez' fast pace, though he recognized the difficulties of translating.

"To translate is not an easy thing -- going back and forth between two languages can be very hard," said Eliezer. "But I'm in my field here as a health services technician."

Fernandez can share in Eliezer's sentiments when it comes to translation. The first eight of 12 countries Comfort visited were predominately Spanish-speaking. Fernandez was among eight U.S. Coast Guard volunteers selected as Comfort crew partly because he speaks Spanish and would be able to translate.

Fernandez and Eliezer spent the day working side by side.

"This isn't a normal thing," continued Fernandez. "Usually we don't get to do this, working with our buddies."

Before Eliezer could attend the school offered by the U.S. Coast Guard, he went to a three-month U.S. Air Force school to study English. After that, he attended the four-month school with Fernandez where they studied together and went on class trips.

Fernandez and Eliezer shared stories and caught up on the times they spent apart.

"I hoped to find one [of my classmates] again. I feel very joyful, very happy," said Eliezer.

Comfort is on a four-month humanitarian deployment to Latin America and the Caribbean providing medical assistance to patients in a dozen countries.

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