SATTAHIP, Thailand - Sailors and Marines assigned to amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48) volunteered at the Baan Kru Boonchoo Center for Special Needs Children during a community relations (COMREL) event Feb. 7.
Peter Thorand, president of the U.S. Navy League Thailand Chapter, worked with Ashland Sailors to make this event possible. The children at the center were excited to interact and play with U.S. service members.
“When the U.S. Navy comes to visit, they are always a big hit with the children,” said Thorand. “Today, the kids were so excited when they saw the vans pull up. When the Sailors got out of the vehicle, the children’s faces lit up with huge smiles. There really isn’t anything in the world like it.”
Ashland Sailors played a variety of games, danced and invited the children to do arts and crafts with them.
“My favorite part was the twist that was added to musical chairs,” said Quartermaster Seaman Apprentice Maicie Barnett, a Sailor assigned to Ashland who volunteered at the COMREL. “We had to partner up with one child and when the music stopped that child had to find us and sit down. The twist was when we lost we had to rub baby powder on each other’s faces to mark that we were out.”
Sailors expressed how grateful they were to spend time with the children.
“All the work that goes into setting up a COMREL is always worth it,” said Religious Program Specialist Class Christopher Sandker, one of the coordinators of the COMREL. “When I see the Sailors smiling and having fun with the children and the children responding to that energy by giggling and dancing, I know the time I spent organizing the event was well worth it. I can’t wait to do it again.
Ashland is scheduled to participate in several other COMREL events during her port call in Thailand.
Ashland is assigned to the Bonhomme Richard Ready Group, and is participating in exercise Cobra Gold 16, a Thai-U.S. co-sponsored multinational joint exercise designed to advance regional security by exercising a robust multinational force from nations sharing common goals and security commitments in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.