USS Pearl Harbor Sailors, 11th MEU Marines Volunteer at Phuket Orphanage 
By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jason J. Behnke, USS Pearl Harbor Public Affairs 
PHUKET, Thailand - USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) Sailors and embarked 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) Marines participated in a community service (COMSERV) project at an orphanage in Phuket, May 15.

The service members moved more than 10 tons of dirt with buckets and shovels throughout the day to help fill in an area of the grounds of the Home and Life Orphanage, which was washed away by a river.

"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."

Home and Life Orphanage has played a vital role in the lives of the 27 kids who live there by pulling them out of devastation and giving them caring place to grow.

"This place really started out shortly after the tsunami," he said. "There are about nine kids here who lost a parent or both parents. Then half of the other kids had some sort of economic difficulty because of the tsunami. Others are from broken homes or abused kids."

This COMSERV was just one of many examples of how these service members have helped out communities around the world during the six months they have been on deployment.

"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. The kids were really nice and fun to work with also."

Pearl Harbor and the 11th MEU are part of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group that is currently deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.

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