Military News

Sunday, November 27, 2011

VCNO Makes First Visit to Bahrain

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tracey L. Whitley, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/5th Fleet Public Affairs

MANAMA, Bahrain (NNS) -- The vice chief of naval operations (VCNO) conducted an all-hands call with Sailors and Marines stationed at Naval Support Activity (NSA), Bahrain, Nov. 23.

This marked the first time Adm. Mark E. Ferguson III visited service members stationed in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR) since becoming VCNO in August.

Ferguson, along with Total Force Fleet Master Chief Scott Benning, discussed the future of the force, what is expected of Sailors today, and the importance of theater operations to the Navy and nation.  The two answered questions on a range of topics to include budget cuts, the enlisted retention board, and benefits.

"The Navy may be a smaller force, but our missions have never been more relevant than right now.  I am here with my wife because what we care about most is taking care of you and your families, ensuring that you have the right tools, training and support structure to do your job.  We really have enjoyed spending the Thanksgiving holiday with our Navy family."

Additionally, four Sailors were given the unique opportunity to be re-enlisted by the VCNO.

"I'm re-enlisting for six more years and I feel honored that the Navy's second-highest ranking officer is taking time out of his busy schedule to re-enlist me today," said Yeoman 1st Class Derrick Cunningham.

Ferguson concluded with a few words of encouragement to all those serving in the U.S. 5th Fleet AOR.

"Around the globe, forward-deployed naval forces are making a difference," said Ferguson. "Specifically in this AOR, your incredible pride and professionalism are a model that other navies around the world try to emulate. Each of you represent the very best our nation has to offer and I thank you for your service."

After the all-hands call, the VCNO held a short meeting with spouses, Fleet and Family Support staff, and ombudsmen. The event was an open forum that allowed spouses to discuss their concerns with the VCNO directly.

"It's very important for me to take the time to thank spouses and those who support our Navy," said Ferguson. "Sailors could not do the wonderful job they do day in and day out without the support of you all."

Makin Island Sailors and Marines Help Paint Pearl City Elementary School

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) David P. McKee, USS Makin Island Public Affairs

PEARL CITY, Hawaii (NNS) -- Sailors and Marines from amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) helped to paint Pearl City Elementary School in Pearl City, Hawaii Nov. 22, during a two-day port visit to Hawaii.

The visit was the first stop for the ship, which departed its homeport of San Diego, Nov. 14, for a scheduled deployment in support of the nation's maritime strategy.

Lt. Jeffrey Perry, a chaplain aboard Makin Island, organized the community relations (COMREL) project.

"The children continually thanked us for the doing the work we did," said Perry. "As kids are naturally curious, they interacted with us, asked us questions, gave us high-fives, hugs, and great big smiles."

Perry said the experience at Pearl City Elementary School demonstrated why the Navy should keep doing community relations projects.

"We can make a difference, and in the process realize that we do play an important role in our communities and communities around the world outside of our regular jobs," said Perry.

Sailors and Marines who participated in the project said they enjoyed the opportunity to make a difference in the community.

Logistics Specialist 3rd Class Zhou Zhong, who has participated in five COMREL projects in the past, said helping others is a rewarding experience for any Sailor or Marine, as well as a benefit to the military's reputation as ambassadors of the United States.

"I encourage participation in COMRELs because it feels good to give my time to help others, and it's good for the reputation of the Navy in the eyes of the people in Hawaii," said Zhong.

Commissioned in 2009, Makin Island is named in honor of the World War II raid carried out by Marine Raider Companies A and B, 2nd Raider Battalion on Japanese occupied Makin Island Aug. 17-18, 1942. LHD 8 is the second ship to bear the name "USS Makin Island."