By By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Markus Castaneda
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (NNS) -- Taking a break from the beautiful Florida weather and sun, Sailors assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Cole (DDG 67) visited a local hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., as part of Fleet Week Port Everglades May 7.
Sailors visited the Broward Health Medical Center, where they mingled and interacted with patients with ages ranging from young to old.
"One of the things that I volunteer to do is to visit all the hospitals and see the kids," said Master Sgt. Abiud Montes, former military advisor of the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 14, and second vice president of the Ft. Lauderdale Navy League. "We want to be able to send our regards and bring the children gifts from the ship. It's nice to see the smile on their faces, and let them know that we care."
The children were shy at first and initially refused to interact with the Sailors, but warmed up with the help of cheerful, upbeat tunes played on the guitar by a member of the Navy Band Southeast. After a few command coins were handed out by the Sailors, the children were won over and all smiles.
"My favorite part of the visit was being able to go in and actually interact with the kids," said Logistics Specialist 2nd Class Michael Lubig, from Maryland, Mich. "Being able to cheer them up even though it may not be the best day they've ever had, but just a simple gift like the ship's coin brought joy to their lives."
Broward's medical staff said they also enjoyed the service members' visit. Staff members had their photos taken with Sailors, shook hands with Sailors and thanked them for their service, and even sang along with the Sailors as they serenaded the patients with music from Navy Band Southeast.
"The public needs to meet the military, especially the kids, for them to find a good role model," said Lynn Drucker, vice president of the Fort Lauderdale Navy League.
The visit hit home for Drucker, whose son graduated from the Naval Academy and is currently deployed.
"Activities like this is a way for me to learn more about the Navy and feel closer to my son and take care of other people in the Navy who are here while he's not here," said Drucker.
Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen from five ships are participating in the 25th annual Fleet Week Port Everglades, a weeklong celebration and collaboration with the community of South Florida.
The ships and units present include: amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1), Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Cole (DDG 67) and USS James E. Williams (DDG 95), U.S. Coast Guard Sentinel-class Cutter USCGC Richard Etheridge (WPC 1102), USS New Hampshire (SSN 778) and Marines assigned to the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit.
The series of events and ship tours provide the citizens of South Florida an opportunity to meet Sailors and Marines, as well as witness first-hand the latest capabilities of today's maritime services, to gain a better understanding of how the sea services support the maritime strategy and national defense of the United States.