“These kids enjoy these visits very much,” Maria
Cissah J. Carñaveral, volunteer coordinator at CPDC,
said in the MSC report. “Once they see us setting up
the gymnasium, they know that volunteers are coming
and they get very excited.”
On Feb. 5, crew members from USNS Charles Drew
traveled to Chantabury to deliver medical supplies to
local Rotary Club members to be donated to a rural clinic
before moving on to the Ban Klong Nam Sai School,
where 209 children — 64 from kindergarten, 145 from
primary school — were waiting, according to Thorand.
“The school never was visited by Merchant Mariners
or U.S. Sailors, [it was] a first for all of us and them,” he
noted in a post about the visit on the Siam Council’s
Facebook page. “We interacted in the classroom with
them and the boys challenged us with a soccer match.
Closer to the lunch time, we presented the school with
sports equipment and stationery items like pencils and
coloring books [that the crew raised funds to purchase]
for the older kids. The little ones in the kindergarten
received a special treat the ship’s crew brought with them
— 70 little bags with candy/chocolate items.”
Sailors and Marines assigned to USS Ashland volun-
teered at the Baan Kru Boonchoo Center for Special
Needs Children in Sattahip on Feb. 7. The team played a
variety of games, danced and invited the children to do
arts and crafts with them during the visit, according to a
report from Navy Public Affairs Support Element West.
“All the work that goes into setting up a COMREL is
always worth it,” Religious Program Specialist 1st Class
Christopher Sandker, one of the coordinators on the
COMREL, said in the Navy report.
“When I see the Sailors smiling and
having fun with the children, and
the children responding to that
energy by giggling and dancing, I
know the time I spent organizing
the event was well worth it. I can’t
wait to do it again.”
Sandker joined a group of
Ashland volunteers who traveled in
two busloads on Feb. 9 to the
Fountain of Life Day Care Center
in Pattaya, where they helped
entertain 120 children with a vari-
ety of indoor and outdoor games
and sports activities.
Thorand described the Feb. 20
COMREL at Wat Jittapawan in Bang
Lamung as “a big joint effort,” with
Ashland Sailors and Marines joining
the Spirit to Serve Thai volunteer
group from the Marriott Resort &
Spa on a major cleanup of the area.
“The mission we planned to accomplish was to clean
up old leaves, dead wood and paint the flag pole area.
Twenty truckloads of old leaves and cuttings were moved
to the burn area and one group painted the flag pole,
everyone worked very hard in the heat today,” he wrote on
the Siam Council Facebook page.
“Around noon, we walked through the temple to see
the whole compound. … The Abbott of the temple
gave every visitor a Buddha amulet for good luck and
thanked them for the effort and great improvement
they made to the area.”
The COMRELs concluded on Feb. 28 with the team
from EPU 102, which was in the area to reload equipment
after Cobra Gold wrapped up, making a visit to the small-
child section of Pattaya Orphanage, Thorand said. The
section presently takes care of more than 50 children,
from newborns to 3 years old. Along with interacting
with the children, the team received a detailed slideshow
presentation about the facility from director Khun Toy.
“This was a much informative visit and much appreciated by all,” Thorland said.
Even as Cobra Gold was ending, the Siam Council
already was at work planning not only for a visit to the
area by another MSC ship, but for the upcoming Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training exercise that
will be hosted by the Royal Thai Navy.
“In general, our council is very active with ship visits and we are well known by all ships stationed in the
Seventh Fleet area of operations,” Thorand said. “We
set up a COMREL for every ship visiting our area. We
will have activities every month.” ;
Petty Officer 2nd Class Steven Chase, a logistics and supply Sailor and Reserve-component Sailor, blows up a balloon at one of the stages of a race between mixed
teams of Sailors and children of the Child Protection and Development Center in
Huay Yai, Thailand, Jan. 30.