Boxer Shares Navy Culture With Stranded French Students
By MC1(SW) Fletcher Gibson
Although not deployed, or even underway, USS Boxer (LHD 4) was able to provide some humanitarian relief for victims of the April 14 volcanic eruption in Iceland by opening its doors and offering a tour to 21 French students stranded in San Diego.
The 16-18 year-old students of Lyceé Saint Michel in Solesmes, France had been visiting San Diego since April 1 as part of a cultural exchange with Patrick Henry High School when the volcano at Eyjafjallajokull erupted, blackening the skies over Europe and closing off air travel to and from the continent. Although scheduled to return to France April 18, they were instead stuck in San Diego until the air traffic opened up again. With another unplanned week in the States ahead of them, their teacher, Jeanne-Marie Dineur, began searching for productive ways to fill the extra time.
Enter USS Boxer. Although only recently out of dry dock and still undergoing maintenance, the ship offered a chance for the students to see a functioning naval warship through a tour lead by none other than the ship’s commanding officer, Capt. Frank Michael.
“It was pleasure helping out these students in need and at the same time show off the mighty Boxer,” he said.
“The image they have of marines and the navy is from film,” Dineur added. “This really brought it alive for them. It made it very real.”
The students were lead through a circuit of the ship, by Capt. Frank Michael, Commanding Officer of the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4), ranging from the well deck at the water line up to the pilot house overlooking the flight deck. The tour included views of the ship’s medical center, the gym, a walk-through of one of the crew berthing spaces, and even a brief view of the crew practicing fire fighting.
While all enjoyed the tour, each seemed to have a different favorite experience. Some said they were impressed by the weight of the ship while others were more amazed by the small size of the bunks. Seeing the captain’s office, the gym and the fire drill were also all mentioned as favorites. What they all agreed on, though, was that visiting Boxer was worth being stranded for.