By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Alex R. Forster, Enterprise Carrier Strike Group Public Affairs
JEBEL ALI, United Arab Emirates - The USO in Jebel Ali, United Arab Emirates, hosted a barbecue for Sailors assigned to guided-missile destroyers USS Porter (DDG 78) and USS O'Kane (DDG 77), Aug. 16.
The picnic was coordinated by USO employees and volunteers while Porter is pierside in Jebel Ali, United Arab Emirates, for assessment and repair following a collision with a large Japanese-owned merchant vessel near the Strait of Hormuz, Aug. 12.
The USO is working hard to make Porter's time there as comfortable as possible according to a local USO official.
"There's nothing more we want than to help you guys out - whether that's through a barbecue or offering Wi-Fi and other services. It brings a smile to all of our faces when we know we're making a difference," said Mark Buzolich, a USO center director.
The barbecue was held during lunch, complete with hot dogs, hamburgers and beverages.
"This is the best burger I've had in a while," said Seaman Brandon Fitzgibbon, a Sailor assigned to Porter's Deck department. "While we are away from home, it's hard to get that summer barbecue atmosphere, but they definitely got it right."
"It's hot today, and it's not comfortable by any means, but if there's something I can do for the brave men and women of the USS Porter, then the temperature doesn't matter," said Bruce Thomas, a USO volunteer who helped prepare and maintain the food for the barbecue.
After the event, Cmdr. Martin Arriola, Porter's commanding officer, presented a plaque to the USO in appreciation of the assistance it has provided since the destroyer arrived in Jebel Ali.
"For the USO to open up some of its services and host a barbecue for our Sailors really means a lot. I think everyone is extremely thankful for the services the USO has provided. Team Porter is strong and resilient, but we are that much stronger with the support of those around us," said Arriola.
While Porter is pierside, the USO will continue to provide services and assistance to the crew.
Porter and O'Kane are on scheduled deployments to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts.