PHUKET, Thailand - Sailors from the amphibious transport dock ship USS New Orleans (LPD 18), the amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52), and embarked Marines assigned to the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) participated in several community service projects with the Royal Thai Navy May 15 during the ships' ongoing port visit.
The projects included a visit to the Phuket Soi Dog Foundation, where Sailors and Marines painted a wall at the animal shelter and placed concrete dividers for a future animal run.
The Soi Dog Foundation helps the homeless, neglected and abused dogs and cats of Thailand. The organization works to humanely reduce the number of unwanted dogs and cats through spaying and neutering, as well as works to better the lives and living conditions of the stray dogs and feral cats of Asia.
“The work this organization is doing in this region is incredible,” said Lt. Daniel Spies, a Navy chaplain assigned to the 11th MEU embarked aboard New Orleans. “I’m glad our Sailors and Marines got a chance to come out here and help out, even in a small way.”
Service members also helped fill in an area of the grounds of Home and Life Orphanage, which was washed away by a river. The Sailors and Marines moved more than 10 tons of dirt with buckets and shovels throughout the day.
“We would never be able to do this without their help,” said Brad Kenny, U.S. Navy League member and Home and Life volunteer.
Since the 2004 tsunami devastated the region, Kenny has helped organize 97 of these volunteer-run COMSERVs with the U.S. Navy and Marines.
“When you look at the manpower that has gone into making this place, it’s absolutely incredible” said Kenny. “The good that the U.S. Navy and Marines who come here for ‘R&R’ and give so much of their time to do this good work is unbelievable.”
Sailors and Marines also visited Ban Aonamber School where they met with staff members and students. The group then playedone half of a soccer game where the U.S. military members faced off against members of the Royal Thai Navy.
Following the first half of the game, the Sailors and Marines headed to the Lampanwa School where they helped pave a concrete sidewalk.
“It’s important for us to forge these bilateral ties with our Thai counterparts,” said Lt. Paul Armstrong, New Orleans’ chaplain. “Anytime we can get closer to our allies and go out into the local community and make an impact for those who really need it really can make a difference for people.”
“It’s important to help out people whenever we can,” said Electrician’s Mate 2nd Class Paul Andrew Quito. “It’s just what we do in the Navy - help out.”