PORT HUENEME, Calif. – More than 90 Sailors from the guided missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53) participated in various community relation (COMREL) projects during a two week combat systems groom in Port Hueneme, California, April 13-24.
The Mobile Bay COMREL team began their Port Hueneme visit by preparing and serving more than 400 meals at the Ventura County Rescue Mission to men overcoming various addictions and as well as the homeless.
“Feeding the homeless was a great experience especially being able to interact with different people,” said Senior Chief Logistics Specialist Lea Villanueva. “It is always good giving back to the community, and I thank God for the blessings we receive every day.”
Many other Sailors had similar feelings.
"I have always believed, if one has an opportunity to do good things for others, one has a moral obligation to do those things, said Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Jefferson Schildgen. “It feels good knowing that I'm able to help others."
The staff at the Ventura County Rescue Mission said they were was impressed with the work ethic displayed by the Mobile Bay Sailors.
"Their level of professionalism and enthusiasm with their hearts of genuine service to the poor and needy would make their naval commanders extremely proud," said John Saltee, Director of the Rescue Mission and Lighthouse for Women and Children. “Their excellent service made a tremendous difference to the people we serve."
Senior Chief Cryptologic Technician (Collection) Heidi Rankin also coordinated a COMREL for the Ventura County Special Olympics committee.
The team cleaned and organized all sorts of sports equipment in preparation for a School Days Tournament for Ventura County and the Special Olympics Summer Olympics this coming June.
“The Sailors did an outstanding job representing Mobile Bay and the Navy,” said Rankin.
In addition, a group of Mobile Bay Sailors partnered up for many of the COMRELs with a local church where officials knew where the greatest needs of the community were.
“We always honor service men and women that have fallen in the line of duty,” said Assistant Pastor Sid Ward of Calvary Chapel. “However, the service men and women of the Mobile Bay will be remembered with love and affection for their service to many ministries at Calvary Chapel of Oxnard.”
Ward said the Sailors helped a variety of organizations in the local community including a senior citizens home and the Young Boys in Trail Life program.
“We can never forget the sacrifice of those that died for this country, but today we celebrate those that showed their true colors by serving our church and community,” said Ward. “Also, they demonstrated a key virtue by living out the honor and courage of our armed forces, especially the Navy’s proud history.”
Lt. Stephen Brown, Mobile Bay’s chaplain, oversaw all of the COMREL events during the two-week period.
“Going into the community is always a wonderful experience for the Sailors to show compassion and is a meaningful way for us to meet people, make new friends, and demonstrate that our Sailors deeply care about the community, and in return it strengthens our own unity by working together as a team," said Brown.
Those who participated said they also enjoyed the opportunity to serve the local community.
"I absolutely loved the COMREL I went to,” said Ensign Daniel Brundage. “It was such a great opportunity to give back, and find a new perspective on our lives on board Mobile Bay. I’m looking forward to the next COMREL opportunity."
Mobile Bay is assigned to Commander, Carrier Strike Group Three as part of the USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) Carrier Strike Group.