By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ricardo R. Guzman
YOKOHAMA, Japan (May 1, 2013) – Sailors assigned to the U.S. Navy’s forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) participated in a community service (COMSERV) event at Seijou Gakuen Christina Handicap Rehabilitation Center in Yokohoma, April 26.
During the event, 12 Sailors exercised, helped clean, baked pastries and bread, played sports, drummed, and made pottery with 59 students and 25 staff members.
“It’s rewarding to help people in need,” said Lt. Cmdr. Young Song, George Washington’s Command Religious Ministries Department (CRMD) principal assistant chaplain. “We want to show that we’re not only war-fighters, but we also care for them.”
Sailors were welcomed by staff and then introduced to students. During the introduction, staff and Sailors explained some of the functions of the ship before proceeding to the arranged activities.
“I like to volunteer and I enjoyed playing kickball with them,” said Information System Technician Seaman Amanda Fears, from Groesbeck, Texas. “It’s important for all Americans, not just Sailors, to volunteer to help those in need and build important relations with their host nation. A little help makes a big difference.”
During the event, Song worked happily alongside Sailors to help with activities.
“Leadership is set by example and when I go to these COMSERVs I want to be part of the team,” said Song. “By engaging in hands-on work in the facility, it goes a long way for my crew and the organization.”
As the day came to a close, Sailors were given keepsakes, such as charms made by the center’s staff and a care bag as a sign of appreciation.
“Today it was great to see George Washington Sailors help the handicapped,” said Esther Kiyomi Kaneko, coordinator of Zushi, Hayama Lions Club. “The city made this community and it’s great to see that everyone is treated equally.”
In the weeks leading to the event, Song and CRMD worked closely with Kaneko to coordinate the event.
“My friend, Esther, has worked throughout her life as a social services worker and has made many connections over the years with those who help people in need, including the director of this facility,” said Song. “The director was skeptical at first, but I was then introduced to her and after getting to know each other, she agreed to let us come by. The director was grateful and was surprised at how great the Sailors interacted with the students.”
George Washington participates in numerous COMSERV events in-port and while underway, and Sailors are strongly encouraged to participate.
“We have many more events coming and would love to see more Sailors attend,” said Song. “It’s not just a great way to get off the ship. It’s a great way to get to know Japan, interact with the Japanese, make friends along the way, help the community and build a better relationship with the host nation.”
George Washington and its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, provide a combat-ready force that protects and defends the collective maritime interest of the U.S. and its allies and partners in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.