ADLIYA, Bahrain (NNS) – U.S. Navy Sailors serving aboard amphibious dock landing ship USS Comstock (LSD 45) participated in a community relations (COMREL) project with the Regional Institute for Active Learning (RIA), during a scheduled port visit in Bahrain, July 24.
Twelve Sailors spent the morning interacting and playing with special needs students at the institute.
The COMREL participants took part in dance classes, yoga classes, an art class and general recreation time with the RIA students.
“I enjoyed the experience immensely. It was the best thing I did in Bahrain,” said Yeoman Seaman Justin Powell, assigned to Beach Master Unit (BMU) 1, Beach Landing Team E, embarked aboard Comstock. “Dancing was a highlight for me, but I also had a chance to juggle for the kids in the nursery. I enjoyed that.”
According to the institute’s website, RIA was created in 1999 to cater to the needs of students with autism, who might otherwise be missed in the school system. They cater to mainstream learners, and students with special education needs.
“I chose to participate because I love working with special needs children,” said Ensign Jessica Alexander. “My mom is a special needs teacher, so I have been around them most of my life and I just love being able to make them smile.”
Another participant also felt a close personal connection with the students and teachers at the institute.
“I have a family member who is autistic, so I know what kind of sacrifice and dedication it takes to deal with everyday situations,” said Engineman 3rd Class Lyzalee Pacheco. “That’s why I really wanted to participate.”
This was the third COMREL project Comstock, and its embarked units, had the opportunity to participate in while on deployment.
“The children seemed to enjoy us being there, the facilitator and the staff showed genuine appreciation, and the participants had an enjoyable time,” said Mayer. “I think it was a big success and hopefully this visit will have a long lasting effect on everybody.”
Comstock, as part of the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group (BOXARG), is deployed supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.
BOXARG consists of the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4), amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay (LPD 20) and Comstock.
The ARG is comprised of more than 4,000 personnel with approximately 1,800 Sailors and 2,200 embarked Marines from the 13th MEU.
Other elements of BOXARG include Fleet Surgical Team 3, Tactical Air Control Squadron 11, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 23, Det. 5, Assault Craft Unit 1, Det. C, Assault Craft Unit 5, Det. C and BMU 1, Det. E.