APRA HARBOR, Guam – Amphibious Dock Landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48), pulled into Guam for a four-day port visit, Aug 3.
The ship’s crew and the embarked 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) participated in three community service events; Umatac Village Cleanup, Juan M. Gerrero Elementary School painting and Chagui’an Massacre Memorial Preparation.
“One of the things these community service events show, is that we’re very much like Guam, we have representation from probably over 20 nations among our crew and Marines,” said Lt. Merlin Stephan the command Chaplain onboard the USS Ashland.
Over 50 Sailors and Marines volunteered across the three events, which included painting a local elementary school, clearing debris from roadways and gutters in a village and beautifying a war memorial.
“What I like to see is the Sailors and Marines working alongside the host nation citizens,” said Stephan. “to develop and foster ongoing relationships with them, that they get to see us beyond the uniform, that we are people with homes, lives, families and children and that we care about the lives of all people, not just our families back home, but also the nations we’re involved with.”
Additionally, the crew of the USS Ashland and the embarked 31st MEU also enjoyed what Guam’s beautiful beaches and villages had to offer.
Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Yuankun Xia from Jacksonville, Florida says he has done a lot since arriving in port.
“It’s my first time here and I love it, there’s a lot to do. I’ve gone Jet-skiing and Para-sailing, been to the beach and went shopping in the district, and the hotel I’m staying at is very nice, I think what I like the most is the district itself since it caters to tourists. I think it’s a great port and I had a lot of fun, I’d love to come back,” said Xia.
Beyond the fun the ship was also able to bring onboard high priority items, much needed supplies, and mail for the crew.
“Port visits like Guam help the Supply department maintain a high level of readiness,” said Lt. Dennis Pelina, the ship’s supply officer, “Receiving high priority parts, provisions and quality of life items such as toiletries or receiving mail really makes a difference while out to sea. We received more than 50 barrels of oil, over 1200 pounds of mail, 40 pallets of provisions, and 10 pallets of Ship Store products.”
Ashland is forward deployed to Sasebo, Japan, and is a part of the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group and is on patrol in the U.S. 7th fleet area of operations.