USS BONHOMME RICHARD, At Sea - Sailors aboard amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) attended an American Sign Language class while on deployment in the Western Pacific Aug. 29.
Religious Programs Specialist 2nd Class James Decker taught the first of an eight week class to Sailors and Marines aboard Bonhomme Richard.
Decker, who began signing professionally in 2001, decided to teach the class after several people expressed interest in it.
"It gives people a chance to learn and experience something that they might not otherwise have a chance," said Decker. "So often being on a ship or being in the Navy, we find ourselves being asked to give up things we love in order to support our mission. This gives me a chance to enjoy one aspect of my life that I loved prior to joining the Navy."
Cryptologic Technician Collection 2nd Class Lorene White was one of the Sailors who took advantage of the opportunity to learn a new language.
"I've always wanted to learn sign language," said White. "I've always wanted to learn as many languages as I can."
Decker said he decided to learn sign language after performing mission work with a deaf man and he wanted to be able to communicate with him.
"Sign language is more challenging than what people may think," said Decker. "If they stick with it, they will discover that, at its core, sign language is one of the truest forms of communication in the world."
Decker taught this same class for two years while stationed in Sasebo, Japan and also for three months while on assignment in Djibouti, Africa.
Bonhomme Richard, commanded by Capt. Daniel Dusek, is the lead ship of the only forward-deployed amphibious ready group and is currently operating in the 7th Fleet Area of Operations.