SAN DIEGO – Approximately a hundred teachers and education professionals from Guajome Park Academy visited the amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu (LHA 5) for a guided tour and luncheon, Aug. 9.
Staff members of the academy were invited for a tour of the ship as part of the Navy’s ongoing efforts to raise awareness of the sacrifices made by service members, as well as for the educators to get together and kick-off a new year.
“This is our staffs first day back and the theme for this year is focus, dedication, and commitment,” said Bob Hampton, superintendent of Guajome Park Academy. “What better opportunity to reinforce and validate those elements than to support our armed forces and have them showcase what they do to illustrate those characteristics?”
The teachers and educators were led on a tour of the ship, seeing everything from the flight deck and bridge, to the medical facility and well deck. Afterwards they were treated to a debriefing by Capt. Shawn Lobree, commander, Amphibious Squadron Three, where he discussed the many accomplishments of Peleliu and crew during their latest deployment, and the role of an amphibious readiness group in today’s fleet.
“I think it went great,” said Lt. j.g. Jared Hickey, who volunteered to lead one of the tours. “Many of the tour members have never been on a Navy ship before and thought it was the experience of a lifetime. It went well and I had a great time.”
Cmdr. David Beeson (ret.), who served 23 years as a chaplain in the Navy, was among the tour group and helped coordinate the event from the academy side. Now an instructional aide for special education and primary school programs at Guajome, Beeson wanted to show his fellow colleagues the day-to-day life of Sailors and the sacrifices they have to make.
“[Peleliu] reminds me of the ships I’ve been on before and the deployments I’ve had,” said Beeson, who served on the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2). “When I was in, it was more of a peace time Navy, so I really appreciate what Sailors do these days and what they go through.”
The tour ended with one last stop to the “Hall of Heroes” where the school members learned of the sacrifices made during the battle of Peleliu, for which the ship is named, and a luncheon in the ship’s mess hall.
Prior to their departure, Lobree presented a small keepsake to Hampton to commemorate Guajome Park Academy’s time aboard and to show his appreciation for the educators.
“I just wanted to thank them for their commitment and service,” said Lobree. “Just like the men and women who serve our country in the armed forces, it takes a very special kind of person to be an educator and commit themselves to educating our youth and be involved in the administration of our schools.”
Homeported in San Diego, Peleliu is undergoing its maintenance availability period in preparation for its next deployment.