MANILA, Republic of Philippines – Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Howard (DDG 83) completed its visit to Manila April 11-14 while on their Western Pacific deployment.
During their port visit Howard crew members interacted with the Manila community through visits to the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Hospicio de San Jose, and historical sites.
The crew paid their respects to the memory of the lives of US military lost during World War II at a wreath laying ceremony at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial April 12.
The cemetery visit included a guided tour of the memorial and surrounding grounds. Following the tour, Cmdr. David G. Zook, Howard’s commanding officer, laid a wreath and offered a prayer to honor the lives of the military members who died during World War II.
“It’s humbling to walk the grounds and passages of this memorial that saves as a reminder of the service, sacrifice, and the true price of freedom,” said Zook.
The Manila American Cemetery and Memorial contains the largest number of graves of service members who fought during World War II, a total of 17,201, most of whom lost their lives in operations in New Guinea and the Philippines.
Howard Sailors also participated in a community service project at Hospicio de San Jose, the oldest Catholic welfare institution in the Philippines, April 13.
Hospicio de San Jose is a haven for people of all ages in need. Orphans, poor, mentally ill, and elderly are all cared for by the ‘Daughters of Charity’ and a staff of dedicated social workers, caregivers and personnel.
The visit provided an opportunity for a tour of the facility, interactive engagement with the school children, and a chance to provide donations of medical and hygiene supplies provided by Project Handclasp. Howard also donated balls, frisbees, and board games to the children.
“We are grateful for the resources that the generous donors and Project Handclasp provided,” said Zook. “We appreciate the opportunity to work with the wonderful staff of Hospicio de Jose and share in some fun, laughter, and smiles.”
Crew members interacted with children inside and outside through playground games of football, soccer, and tag. The infectious smiles of the children reflected the significant impact an afternoon of fun could provide.
“At one point a pre-school girl gave me a giant hug to show how happy she was to spend time with us,” said Lt. j.g. Joshua Hinshaw of Howard. “Overall I think it was a successful trip that will be remembered fondly by all.”
Through these cultural interactions Howard Sailors were afforded the opportunity to experience the Filipino culture, lend a helping hand, and remember the history that has closely bounded the United States and the Philippines together.
Howard, home-ported in San Diego, is currently deployed to the 7th Fleet area of operations supporting security and security in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.