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Essex Sailors and Marines Build Friendships at Cambodian Schools

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS071201-01
Release Date: 12/1/2007 6:31:00 PM

From USS Essex Public Affairs

SIHANOUKVILLE, Kingdom of Cambodia (NNS) -- Nearly 300 Sailors and Marines assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) and the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit lent a helping hand to local schools Nov. 27 - 29 during a scheduled port visit to Sihanoukville.

Sailors and Marines visited the Hun Sen Krong Primary School, Hun Sen Mittapheap Primary School and Chamka Kaosu Primary School to help clean and paint the schoolhouses, as well as teach English, play games and interact with the students.

"Projects like these are so important because they produce long lasting benefits," said Capt. Brian T. Donegan, USS Essex commanding officer. "By enriching the lives of children and promoting their education we can provide a contribution to the people of Cambodia that literally lasts a generation."

Those Sailors and Marines participating said it was an experience they will remember forever.

"The children are such a joy," said Electronics Technician 3rd Class Rosemary Colbert. "I had a blast teaching and playing with the children."

Sailors, Marines and students played soccer, duck-duck goose, hop scotch, relay races and marbles throughout the day. "The children are pretty fast runners and I had a hard time keeping up with them," said Colbert.

"I like being over here. It feels good to help out the school," said Marine Corps Cpl. Brandon Turner. "I feel that this was really a rewarding experience and I am glad that I was able to participate."

"I had the best time in my life playing with the kids and teaching. They are really smart," said Yeoman Seaman Saquan Sutton.

Essex's visit to Cambodia marks the first time an amphibious assault ship has visited the country and marks the second U.S. Navy ship visit in 2007. USS Gary's (FFG 51) visit in April was the first U.S. ship to visit the Kingdom of Cambodia in more than 30 years.

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