MAJURO, Republic of the Marshall Islands (March 16, 2017) – Sailors assigned to the submarine tender USS Frank Cable (AS 40) visited men from Waan Aelon in Maiel (WAM), as part of a community relations project, March 16.
The two groups came together to learn more about each other’s organization and to help build a more positive relationship between the U.S. and the Republic of the Marshall Islands.
WAM is a program that helps men and women from the Republic of the Marshall Islands who struggle to find employment. They give them a job building wooden canoes and furniture, and also teach them vital life skills to help them gain employment outside of the program.
Sealend Laiden, one of the male counselors at WAM, said he is grateful for the Frank Cable Sailors who came to visit.
“The Navy being here is really important. Some of the guys here think they are useless because they don’t have jobs,” said Laiden. “Having Sailors come to visit them is like giving them their life back. They feel important.”
Lt. Nathanael Gentilhomme, chaplain of the Frank Cable, emphasized the mutual benefit shared by the Navy Sailors and the WAM trainees.
“It gives the trainees the opportunity to teach U.S. Navy Sailors the traditional vocation of wood carving in order to build up their sense of purpose,” said Gentilhomme. “It also allows the Sailors to immerse themselves in the Marshallese culture and allows them to share Navy career opportunities with the trainees at WAM.”
During the visit, the Sailors learned first-hand how to create wooden carvings and got an opportunity to create their own.
Machinist’s Mate Fireman Dalisa Upchurch said the meeting was very interesting and that she learned a lot from the experience.
“A lot of them seemed very interested in what we do in the Navy,” said Upchurch. “They saw how well we worked together and hopefully that will inspire them to pursue what they want to do in life.”
The visit to WAM was one of two community relations projects that Frank Cable Sailors participated while in port.
Frank Cable, enroute to Portland, Ore. for her dry-dock phase maintenance availability, conducts maintenance and supports submarines and surface vessels deployed to the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.