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USS Gettysburg Conducts COMREL in Benidorm, Spain

Navy News Service

Story Number: NNS110610-11

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Betsy Lynn Knapper, USS George H.W. Bush Public Affairs

BENIDORM, Spain (NNS) -- Guided-missile cruiser USS Gettysburg (CG 64) participated in its first community relations (COMREL) project of the ship's 2011 deployment during a port visit to Benidorm, Spain, June 8.

Sailors volunteered their time mixing and laying concrete as well as chipping and repainting the outside walls and ledges of homes that are sponsored by the Emaus association in Spain; an association dedicated to protection of orphaned children.

"It's pretty incredible because we live to serve and even in our off time we are able to gather up a group of Sailors and serve in a unique way," said Ensign Stephanie N. Stamm, COMREL officer aboard Gettysburg.

Not only does the COMREL provide help for the local community, it is also an opportunity for Gettysburg Sailors to work together across departments and divisions, providing team-building skills that will serve the crew when back out to sea.

"Our Navy visits individual foreign ports only so often, so to be able to come here and be face-to-face with the local community and learn the culture and interact in an extremely positive way like this is really great," said Stamm.

At the end of the day, the 30 Sailors presented a plaque to Monse Fiter, president of Emaus association, on behalf of Gettysburg to mark the occasion.

"Today is a wonderful day for me," said Fiter. "Your love for the people is wonderful, thank you."

Fiter blew kisses to the Sailors as the bus departed.

"They are very appreciative to have us here," said Lt. Buster L. Williams, Gettysburg chaplain. "It's been exciting to get to know and work with folks here at this facility. We had a good meal together and were able to get a lot accomplished."

Capt. Patrick O. Shea, commanding officer of Gettysburg, expressed his hopes to be able to participate in other COMRELS during their deployment.

"These opportunities to form partnerships at a local level are great for our crew," said Shea. "Standing side-by-side with local volunteers from the Emaus was terrific."

Gettysburg is deployed as part of the George H.W. Bush Strike Group. The strike group is made up of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 2, USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 22 staff, guided-missile cruiser USS Anzio (CG 68), the guided-missile destroyers USS Truxtun (DDG 103) and USS Mitscher (DDG 57) and Spanish navy frigate ESPS Almirante Juan de Borbon (F 102).

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