USS Ashland, 31st MEU volunteer at Juan M. Guerrero Elementary School
ASAN, Guam (Aug. 5, 2015) – USS Ashland (LSD 48) Sailors and 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) Marines worked alongside Juan M. Guerrero Elementary School staff to prepare the campus for the upcoming school year during a joint community relations project in Dededo Aug. 5.
“We were really excited to have assistance and volunteer work from the Sailors and the Marines,” said Marites Garcia, school assistant principal. “It is very important having our military come out to the community to show that they really do care no matter where they are. They are there to assist us and our needs.”
Lance Cpl. Antonio Contreras, with the 31st MEU, painted walkways in anticipation of the school’s 700 students who will begin the school year in less than two weeks. He said he enjoyed the work because he believes making the facility look nice would create a positive atmosphere for the students to learn.
“If I could actually stay here and see the kids’ faces, how they react when they see how everything is painted and if it looks different from a different school year, that would be my favorite part,” he said.
Lt. Merlin Stephan, Ashland chaplain, helped coordinate the event and said the Sailors and Marines look forward to helping in the communities they visit and enjoy the change in the work routines aboard the ship.
“This is a big part of what we do and we very much enjoy getting to do things like this,” he said. “We are very grateful for being able to be here today and to contribute even a small way to the education of the young people on the island of Guam.”
Ashland, homeported in Sasebo, Japan, is the eighth and last of the Whidbey Island-class ships to be commissioned and the second U.S. Navy ship to bear that name. She is on patrol in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations with her crew of more than 500 Sailors and Marines.