PHILIPPINE SEA - Ticonderoga guided-missile cruiser USS Cowpens (CG 63) flight deck crew have been operating non-stop during daylight hours in support of Operation Damayan.
Damayan, which translates to "to help those in need" in Tagalog, has been the Cowpens' focus in the aftermath of super Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda.
The flight deck crew has contributed to Operation Damayan by providing a ready deck and flexing to planned and unplanned flight quarters up to ten times a day. Cowpens has served as a "lily-pad" for all Navy helicopters in the area, enabling continuous operations by providing critical support and fuel.
"I am really glad to be here, even though we are not boots on ground in the mix right now," said Boatswain's Mate 2nd Class Matias Diaz. "I am glad that my boots are on the flight deck because I know every bird that we land, refuel, and launch can fly a little bit further and a little bit longer to help those in need."
The flight deck crew has been manned and ready for more than 120 deck landings in the heat and humidity of the Philippine Sea. Their efforts enable the U.S. Navy, Philippine navy, and U.S. Agency for International Development leadership embarked on Cowpens the freedom of movement to travel and assess affected areas.
"We are glad to be out here doing out part, doing whatever we can to help all of the people suffering," said Boatswain's Mate 1st Class Mark Cross.
All of the flight deck crew's combined efforts ensure that the helicopters can support the people of the Philippines with food, water and medical evacuation services.
Cowpens has been critical in the Humanitarian Aid/Disaster Relief efforts between the Republic of the Philippines, the Department of Defense and USAID, supporting nongovernmental organizations and international partners, and has served as the flagship for Rear Adm. Hugh Wetherald, commander for the Joint Force Maritime Component of Joint Task Force 505.