By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jennifer Hunt, USS Iwo Jima Public Affairs
GEORGETOWN, Guyana (NNS) -- The humanitarian assistance mission Continuing Promise 2010 presented four service members of Guyanese descent currently embarked aboard the multi-purpose amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), an opportunity to reunite with their relatives in Georgetown, Guyana, Oct. 22.
Army Capt. Devicka Sahedeo, Machinist's Mate 1st Class Kurt Powdar, Aviation Machinist's Mate 3rd Class Daniel Singh, and Cpl. John Eversley, gathered at a local school and spent the day catching up with their respective family members after years of separation.
"When I heard we were coming to
, I was really excited," said Singh. "I'm glad there was someone out there who cared about reconnecting me with my family. It was a great surprise." Guyana
Powdar, who left the country at the age of 13, was thrilled to meet his wife's father for the first time.
"I know he was shocked when he saw me; we've only seen pictures of each other until now. He's pretty proud of me," he said.
Sahedeo was also able to meet with new relatives and reconnect with others she had not seen since she left more than 20 years ago.
"It was a little overwhelming," said Sahedeo. "I met a lot of people who knew me from before, and they told me stories of how I was as a child. It was just amazing."
Family member after family member ventured into the engineering site designated for the Continuing Promise reunion; however, one last service member anxiously awaited the arrival of his maternal grandmother and great aunt. Upon spotting them, Singh's anxiety was immediately replaced with exhilaration.
"They went through a lot to get here, but that just made it even better," said Singh. "We talked about everything from what the military is doing out here to our other family members around the world."
In addition to a warm reception from relatives, service members felt a fresh welcoming from their developing home country.
"When I was here it was scooters and go-karts, now its bicycles, cars and cell phones," said Powdar. "Imagine it in five or ten years."
Iwo Jima is currently off the coast of Guyana and will move on to Suriname for the final phase of Continuing Promise 2010, a humanitarian assistance mission in which the assigned medical and engineering staff embarked aboard Iwo Jima are working with partner nation teams to provide medical, dental, veterinary and engineering assistance in eight nations.