Sunday, June 27, 2010

Truman and Ike Sailors Reunite

By Lt. Katie Cerezo, USS Harry S. Truman Public Affairs

June 27, 2010 - ABOARD USS HARRY S. TRUMAN, At Sea (NNS) -- Eleven Sailors aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) enjoyed a unique opportunity to reunite with family members from the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) June 26.

While transiting through the 5th fleet area of responsibility (AOR) crew members from the Eisenhower strike group flew to Truman via carrier on board delivery (COD) and helicopter for an afternoon visit.

The event was coordinated by command master chiefs from both Truman and Eisenhower as a means of allowing family members that had been separated by the schedules of the two carrier strike groups a chance to reconnect.

"Eisenhower suggested the cross-deck, and we thought it was a great idea," said Truman's Command Master Chief CMDCM (SW/AW) Loran Bather. "It's hard for two deployed service members in the same family to see each other, and this was the least we could do."

The Eisenhower CSG deployed Jan. 2, while the Truman CSG deployed May 21. Both strike groups are home ported in Norfolk, Va.

Logistics Specialist Seaman Antwan Lewis, from Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 32 on board Truman, appreciated seeing his twin brother, Logistics Specialist Seaman Anthony Lewis, from VFA 143 on board Eisenhower.

"We've never been apart before, so it was interesting to see him. He lost a lot of weight!" said Antwan of his brother.

The brothers, who grew up in Atlanta, are very close. They joined the Navy two days apart, and were assigned to different divisions in boot camp. They finally saw each other at "A' school, where they realized that both of them had re-classified into the LS rating without the other knowing.

Since Anthony is completing his second deployment, he was able to pass on advice about what to expect on deployment to his brother.

All of the family members agreed on one thing: constant contact, whether by phone, e-mail or the combined efforts of their leadership making this visit happen is the key to making a deployment a bit easier. Dual-military couples with children face increased hardships during back-to-back deployments.

Aviation Maintenance Administrationman 2nd Class (AW) Holly Staton-Mountcastle from Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 126 on board Truman, and her husband, Aviation Machinist's Mate 2nd Class Matthew Mountcastle from Eisenhower's Strike VFA 131, have managed to stay close despite the separation by sending each other e-mails and pictures.

After the Eisenhower deployed in January, Holly sent her husband pictures of their two-year-old son. Now that she is deployed, she hopes he returns the favor.

"We took a family portrait last Christmas, and we hope to have a family picture taken together soon," said Staton-Mountcastle.

Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) 3rd Class Brian Case, temporarily assigned to Truman's Naval Security Force, and his brother, Operations Specialist 3rd Class Jason Case, from Eisenhower's Operations department, were very thankful for the opportunity to see each other.

"By the time this deployment is over, we wouldn't have seen each other for over a year," said Brian.

The brothers, whose grandfather served in the Navy in 1941 as an engineer, share many interests, such as rooting for Ohio State and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Jason thinks that the relationship between him and his brother has become stronger since he joined the Navy two and a half years ago.

"Brian inspired me to play football and basketball, and taught me a lot about life. As we got older, instead of being so competitive, we started hanging out more," Jason Case added.

The Truman CSG will be relieving the Eisenhower CSG as Task Force 50 in the 5th Fleet area of responsibility later this month.

Truman Hosts a "Mind, Body, Spirit" Day

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonnie Hobby

June 27, 2010 - ABOARD USS HARRY S. TRUMAN, At Sea (NNS) -- USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) launched a Mind, Body and Spirit Campaign June 25 to help crew members find healthy ways to tend to their personal growth during deployment.

The campaign was an all-day event held in the ship's hangar bay. Several booths were set up to educate crew members on topics as diverse as religious services and programs, healthy eating and exercise habits, physical therapy, mental health and professional development. Many Sailors and Marines stopped by to see what the booths had to offer.

"The whole purpose of this campaign is to educate individuals about the number of resources available on board the ship," said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class (SW/FMF) Justin G. Pearce, Truman's psychiatric technician.

From his booth, Pearce instructed Sailors and Marines about personal hygiene and proper hydration techniques, an issue of critical importance as temperatures continue to rise.

At the next booth, Cmdr. Denise Milton, Truman's physical therapist, showed a Sailor some exercises to help align his spine, strengthen his back and improve the quality of sleep he was getting.

Senior Chief Navy Counselor (SW/EXW/AW) Ernest Andrew Jackson, Truman's command career counselor, said crew members can become so focused on mission accomplishment that they sometimes forget about taking care of their own physical and spiritual well-being.

"Having this information gives us more of an outlook on life outside our jobs," said Operations Specialist Seaman (SW) Noal White, one of the Sailors who attended the seminar. "Sometimes we get so absorbed in our work centers that we don't take time to think about anything else. Seminars like this help keep our morale up and allow us to focus on the other important aspects of our lives, such as our health."

In addition to picking up information packets, Sailors had the opportunity to obtain signatures for their enlisted air and surface warfare specialist personnel qualification standards (PQS) at the career booth and talk with career counselors on how to chart their military career.

Pearce said the visitors walked away with a lot of information, as well as a better sense of the programs that exist to help take care of their needs.

"The Sailors and Marines who came down seem to have gotten a lot out of the campaign," said Jackson. "The different booths always had visitors, and we've been taking down their questions so we can follow through with them and give them the information they need."

Jackson said another Mind, Body and Spirit seminar will be scheduled for the crew mid-deployment.

ASYMCA hosts 4th annual 'Christmas you Missed'

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kari R. Rodriguez, Navy Region Southwest Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- The Armed Services YMCA brought together military families from around the San Diego area for a morning of decorating cookies and gingerbread houses during the 4th annual 'Christmas you Missed' event June 25.

The event gathered more than 650 service members and their families who were separated during the 2009 holiday season due to deployment. The families enjoyed listening to Christmas carols, decorating trees and having their photo taken with Santa.

"We had our biggest turnout this year. It this gives us the chance to recreate the holidays for our military members," Brittany Catton, ASYMCA director of development and public relations said. "This is such a magical morning, and it's one of my favorite days of the year."

One participant said he really appreciates how much the community gives back to the military and their families.

"It feels great knowing that my community back home cares enough to recreate Christmas for my family and me. My daughter was really excited," said Electrician's Mate 2nd Class (SW/AW) Moises Gutierrez, who was deployed with the USS Bonhomme Richard battle group during the holidays. "This event really boosts morale for those who don't get to spend the holidays with their families."

Catton said this event was started by the ASYMCA volunteers Todd Little who wanted to give back to military members who were separated from their family during Christmas.

"The first year that we held this event was great and it has gotten bigger since then," Catton said. "We also hold this event in June because we want to catch everyone who has come back from deployment before they deploy again."Each family received presents from Toys for Tots, a stocking filled with Christmas candy and handwritten cards from members of the community.

Pacific Partnership 2010 Doctors Help Mother and Son

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd 2Class (SW/AW) Brian Gaines, Pacific Partnership Public Affairs

SIHANOUKVILLE, Cambodia (NNS) -- A mother and her young son will be able to enjoy better lives as a result of the care provided by Pacific Partnership 2010 surgeons working aboard the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19).

U.S. Navy, partner nation, and nongovernmental organization surgeons were preparing to perform corrective surgery to a Cambodian child's urinary tract when they noticed the boy's mother had very poor eyesight. The 40-year-old woman was found to have severe cataracts in both eyes. After making arrangements for post-operative care for the son, the embarked ophthalmologists then performed surgery on the mother to remove one of the cataracts.

"As the boy was being prepped for surgery, we noticed the mother feeling her way around the ship," said Australian Navy Lt. (Dr.) Elizabeth Livingstone, an ophthalmologist currently attached to Mercy. "So we decided to check for cataracts and then decided surgery would benefit the mother."

Ophthalmologists aboard Mercy were surprised to see such advanced cataracts in a woman this age. The first procedure, which took approximately half an hour, was performed at the same time as the child's surgery, which took about three and a half hours.

At the conclusion of both surgeries, both mother and child spent time together in recovery, before being taken back to their respective wards.

"Eventually, we removed the other cataract and the mother now has 20/30 vision in that eye," said Livingstone.

The entire surgical staff celebrated the fact that they had helped this family.

"It is amazing that we could help restore the gift of sight for this woman," said Cmdr. (Dr.) Kent Blade, officer in charge for Ophthalmology. "Otherwise, the child inevitably would have been leading his mother around in a few years."

Not only will the child now lead a normal life, but the mother will now have improved vision," said Cmdr. (Dr.) Brian Auge, a urologist aboard Mercy. "It was also great to see the surgical staff – from administration on down – come together to make this great thing a reality."

The positive effect in the overall quality of life for this mother and son team translates to an overall improvement for their community – half-day's travel away – by enabling them to become more productive members who will no longer be affected by a medical condition," said Livingstone. "The mother must have given me a dozen hugs as they departed Mercy."

Pacific Partnership 2010 is the fifth in a series of annual U.S. Pacific Fleet humanitarian and civic assistance endeavors aimed at strengthening regional partnerships among U.S. government organizations, host nations, partner nations, and international humanitarian and relief organizations.