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PHIBRON 11 Conducts Community Service in Thailand

Navy News Service

Story Number: NNS110228-06

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Johnie Hickmon, USS Essex Public Affairs

PATTAYA, Kingdom of Thailand (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to Commander, Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 11 and the Royal Thai Navy, participated in a community service project at the Bannok School in Pattaya, Thailand, Feb. 23.

During the project, Sailors from both countries participated in various sports with the children, including volleyball, badminton and soccer, while others chose to read English books and play with face paint.

Despite humid and rainy weather, Sailors were met with smiling faces, which set the tone for an exciting day, said Logistics Specialist 1st Class Emil Orencia.

"I really enjoyed playing games with the kids," he said. "Seeing the smiles on their faces made coming out here worth it."

After the activities, school staff members prepared lunch for the Sailors, and students performed several dance routines. Some students also took an opportunity to return the favor to those Sailors who taught them English earlier in the day, conducting lessons of their own in their native Thai language.

"I loved the fact they were eager to teach me their language," said Operations Specialist Seaman Lakeysha Smith. "Many of the kids out here reminded me of my nephews at home."

As the project concluded, PHIBRON 11 Commanding Officer Capt. Bradley Lee presented a plaque to the school's director, Nimanont Benjamas, who said the children were pleased to have the opportunity to play and learn with the Sailors.

"They all really had a good time today," she said. "I'm sure they will be looking forward to seeing everyone again."

Lee said he hoped the good will exhibited by both U.S. and Thai sailors would have a positive and lasting impact on the students.

"I hope the children will see this plaque and think of us," he said.

PHIBRON 11 is embarked aboard ships of the Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG). The ARG reports to Commander, Amphibious Force Seventh Fleet, Rear Adm. Richard Landolt, headquartered in Okinawa, Japan.

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