SIHANOUKVILLE, Kingdom of Cambodia
– Nearly 100 Sailors and Marines from the only forward-deployed
amphibious assault ship, USS Essex (LHD 2), had the privilege to spend
time with the children and faculty of an orphanage while on a
scheduled port visit to Sihanoukville, Kingdom of Cambodia, Nov. 30.
Sailors were excited about doing a community service project at
Village D’Enfantes Orphanage, where Essex Sailors and embarked Marines
brought books, clothing, two sewing machines, skateboards, and toys
for each of the children.
“The Sailors and Marines brought an enormous amount of supplies and
gifts,” said Religious Programs Specialist 1st Class (SW) Edgar
Mercadal. “The children were lining the walkway cheering our arrival.
It encouraged us to unload the truck as fast a possible, so we could
spend more time with the children.”
Sailors and Marines brought the orphanage a large truck filled to max
capacity with school supplies and gifts for the children. Once the
truck was off-loaded and everyone had the opportunity to meet each
other, local musicians and the U.S. 7th Fleet Band performed for the
“Having Essex come here allowed us to give something to the Cambodian
people,” said Lt. Cmdr. Ronnie Mangsat from Amphibious Squadron 11.
“Coming here shows them what we are capable of and that we are willing
to take the time to help our new friends.”
Many Sailors and Marines felt they learned to appreciate the little
everyday things that most people take for granted.
“I’ve participated in three community service projects since I came to
the Kingdom of Cambodia, and this is by far the most meaningful,”
Lance Cpl. Kester Hackett. “I have a six-year-old that goes to a
private school back home, and it’s important to remind these children
that there is still hope. Sometimes a simple handshake or hug is all
The 7th Fleet Band “Far East Edition” performed for the children and
faculty at the orphanage as part of the effort to provide something
special for the orphans.
"This is the 7th Fleet Band's first opportunity to visit the Kingdom
of Cambodia. I think I speak for the whole band when I say that we are
all very excited to be able to see the country, meet the wonderful
Cambodian people, and do what we do best - to share the universal
language of music," said Musician 2nd Class Benjamin Coker.
Visits by U.S. Navy ships symbolize the continued friendship between
our two nations and other military services. This visit marks the
second time a U.S. Navy ship has visited the Kingdom of Cambodia in 30
Operating in the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean, the U.S. 7th Fleet
is the largest of the forward-deployed U.S. fleets, with approximately
50 ships, 120 aircraft and 20,000 Sailors and Marines assigned at any