SALAVERRY, Peru (NNS) -- A combined total of 63 Sailors and U.S. Coast Guard members along side 15 members from partner nations came together to participate in a community relations event (COMREL) at Virgen De La Puerta, Sept. 20.
The countries involved in the COMREL were Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru and the U.S. The team worked together to paint, organize, clean and provide some light construction work around the compound.
"These sort of events where Sailors get the opportunity to get out and make a difference in the communities always reward both sides. Sailors always come back with great stories on what they did and how much fun it was helping out. Almost always, it's the smiles on the children's faces that have the biggest impact," said Cmdr. Dan Straub, commanding officer of USS Ingraham (FFG 61).
This event is part of the UNITAS exercise, which is intended to train participating forces in a variety of maritime scenarios to test command and control of forces at sea, while operating as a multinational force to provide the maximum opportunity to improve interoperability.
"It was a great experience working side by side with the various navies as we came together for a good cause. I believe we all made a positive impact for the students and the community," said Master-at-Arms 1st Class Mario Gonzalez a native from Los Angles.
During the COMREL, several Peruvian children came to the grounds to meet the service members and to help them while they worked to fix their school.
"It was a great experience working alongside our partner nations. It shows that, even though we are from various parts of the world, we can come together with one common goal, and that is to help out the children," said U.S. Coast Guard Yeoman 2nd Class Michael Snyder.
UNITAS began in 1960. It is the U.S. Navy's longest running annual multinational maritime exercise. UNITAS, which means "unity" in Latin, is a demonstration of the U.S. commitment to the region and to the value of the strong relationships forged between our partner militaries.
U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet support U.S. Southern Command's joint and combined military operations by employing maritime forces in cooperative maritime security operations in order to maintain access, enhance interoperability, and build enduring partnerships in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions.