USS Shiloh, Lassen Renovate Primary School in India
Story Number: NNS100426-02
By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Charles Oki, Commander Task Force 70 Public Affairs
GOA, India (NNS) -- Sailors from the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Shiloh (CG 67) and Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen (DDG 82) painted class rooms at the Bhatikar Model English School in Goa, India, April 23.
Sailors from both ships hopped onto busses and made their way to the school where they painted classrooms and interacted with the school staff and students.
More than 40 Sailors attended the event and repainted four classrooms in a span of two hours.
"Many of the Sailors stepped off the ship only minutes after the brow set," said Lt. Michael Tagaloa, Shiloh's command chaplain. "Instead of rushing to go on liberty we had many Sailors rushing to go to the community service project. The Sailors love being able to reach out to the community and even in such a short time they learned a lot about the people and the culture. The Sailors worked hard, and they did a wonderful job."
The staff in attendance at the event included several teachers and the principal of the school.
"I must say that they are doing a wonderful job," said Revathy Kane, the headmistress of the Bhatikar Model English School. "I am so happy to see the Sailors doing the work sincerely and so systematically. I know that they didn't have any rest before coming here, and we greatly appreciate the help. I hope that if the Sailors come back that we can welcome them once again."
Shiloh and Lassen's visit is the first part of Exercise Malabar 2010, a bilateral exercise with the Indian Navy. As an important military exercise, Malabar helps the U.S. and Indian navies maintain a strong bond. Community service projects often help Sailors make that same bond with citizens out in the general population.
"We're here to show the people of India that we're here as friends," said Operations Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Joshua Eddy, a Cleveland native and Lassen's community service coordinator. "Malabar might be an important event for our navies, but the most important thing is to build a bond of friendship with the people. Every time we go anywhere, community service projects provide Sailors a way to become friends with the people no matter what country we are in."
For some Sailors, the port visit is the first of many and a great opportunity to help people who are less fortunate.
"This is my first everything," said Serviceman Seaman Apprentice Takado Hunt, a Wichita, Kan., native assigned to Shiloh. "This is my first time being outside of the United States, first deployment, first port visit and first community service project, and it's been great so far. I joined the Navy to see the world and to help people so being able to do all of those things in one day. The only thing I can think of is how much of a blessing this experience has been."
Lassen is assigned to Destroyer Squadron 15 and Shiloh is assigned to Commander Task Force 70 and both are forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan.
Operating in the Western Pacific and the Indian Ocean, the U.S. 7th Fleet is the largest of the forward-deployed U.S. fleets, covering 48 million square miles and with approximately 60-70 ships, 200-300 aircraft, and 40,000 Sailors and Marines assigned at any time.
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