– Sailors assigned to the forward-deployed Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Cowpens (CG 63) spent time working hard and playing harder at the Mount Carmel School, Sept. 24.
After a brief welcome from the school’s President Galvin Deleon Guerrero, the faculty and students, the Sailors and students split into groups and got to work.
Sailors removed debris covering the stage in the school’s gymnasium using shovels and rakes to move pieces of rotted wood and decaying concrete into barrels for disposal.
The Mount Carmel School was founded in 1952 by Father Arnold Bendowski and the parishioners of Mount Carmel Church. The school’s first classes were held in the sugar factory generator house, a building that survived World War II, and still stands today.
Cowpens Sailors also spent time in class with the students studying and answering the various questions asked about life as a Sailor.
“I especially like helping kids,” said Operations Specialist 3rd Class Ryan Comtois. “I think that one day they are going to look back and think that maybe this is something they would like to do.”
Sailors also played sports with the students, enjoying games of basketball, volleyball and ultimate frisbee.
For some of the Cowpens Sailors service at the Mount Carmel School was much more personal.
“It reminds me of when I was in school,” said Gas Turbine Systems Technician (Mechanical) 3rd Class Daniella Mazzaro, who grew up in Venezuela and went to a similar school that housed every grade under one roof. “I always wondered when I was in school what it would be like if the U.S. Military would come and help us out. I know they are curious the same way I was curious.”
After lunch, students were gathered into the gymnasium for a short question and answer session with Cowpens Sailors. Each talked about their various rates and what they do from day to day while underway.
Before saying goodbye, Lt. Tae Kim, chaplain aboard Cowpens, presented a command ball cap to Guerrero as a thank you for sharing the school and students with the Sailors.
Once on the bus and headed back to the ship, Kim praised Cowpens Sailors for being willing to spend some of their precious time off working and serving others.
“I know it’s your liberty day and you could have slept in, or gone diving, or worked on your tan,” said Kim. “ But times like this can really make you think about life. Just think of the impact you can make by giving even just a little time.”
Cowpens is forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan and is currently underway in the 7th Fleet area of operations as part of the USS George Washington Carrier Strike Group.