USS New Orleans Sailors, Marines Visit Starfish Learning Center in Cambodia
SIHANOUKVILLE, Cambodia - Sailors from amphibious transport dock ship USS New Orleans (LPD 18), along with Marines from the embarked 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), visited the Starfish Learning Center in Sihanoukville, Cambodia for a community service project, Dec. 19.
Service members applied a fresh coat of paint to the school and spent time teaching the children American games like "duck, duck goose" and "red rover."
Lt. Paul Armstrong, New Orleans' chaplain, said the event was one of five projects the crew of "Big Easy" will participate to bolster U.S. relations during theater security cooperation exercises with Cambodia.
"The children were a little awkward with the new games," said Armstrong. "But kids are kids; they picked up the games quickly and enthusiastically."
As soon as they arrived, the Sailors and Marines were greeted by the children at the school who were anxious to practice their English.
"It was pretty cool," said Operations Specialist 2nd Class Joseph Gossey. "The kids were happy to see us and it was interesting seeing how they teach school here."
After two hours, the Sailors and Marines packed up the paint, said goodbye to the children and left with smiles on their faces.
"I had a lot of fun," said Staff Sgt. Reynaldo Desenganio from the 11th MEU. "It's always great to see happy kids when you're away from your own on deployment."
New Orleans deployed Nov. 14 in support of the nation's maritime strategy and is currently conducting theater security cooperation missions in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR).
New Orleans, amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) and amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8), along with the embarked 11th MEU, make up the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (ARG).
The mission of the Makin Island ARG is to help provide deterrence, promote peace and security, preserve freedom of the seas and provide humanitarian/disaster response as well as supporting the nation's maritime strategy when forward deployed.
The 7th Fleet AOR includes more than 52 million square miles of the Pacific and Indian oceans, stretching from the international date line to the east coast of Africa, and from the Kuril Islands in the north to the Antarctic in the south.
More than half of the world's population lives within the 7th Fleet AOR. In addition, more than 80 percent of that population lives within 500 miles of the oceans, which means this is an inherently maritime region.