Story by John C. Stennis Strike Group Public Affairs

MANILA, Philippines – The John C. Stennis Strike Group (JCSSG) departed the Philippines after a port visit, May 28.

Sailors conducted cultural exchanges with the people of the Philippines by participating in community service (COMSERV) projects, Morale Welfare and Recreation (MWR)-sponsored tours.

COMSERV projects included visits to local elementary schools, memorials and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Medical Center in Quezon City.

“It really puts a positive frame around what we’re doing here,” said Cmdr. Carey Cash, from Memphis, Tenn., USS John C. Stennis’ (CVN 74) command chaplain. “When people see a warship they think American power, but what the COMSERV does is remind the local community that we’re there to help them internally, that we’re cognizant of human need, and that we’re there not only to represent power but to also help satisfy those needs.”

For the COMSERV project at the medical center, Sailors delivered more than 900 pounds of books and supplies through Project Handclasp; a program which accepts humanitarian, educational and goodwill donations contributed by the American private sector, and transports them to foreign nations on a space-available basis aboard U.S. Navy vessels. They also interacted one-on-one with the patients.

“These events strengthen the ties between the U.S. Navy and the Filipino military,” said Col. Eric De-Leon, the AFP medical center commanding officer. “I saw the smiles of our patients during their interactions with the Sailors and I could tell they appreciated your attention and your kindness.”

MWR sponsored tours included a Tagatay sightseeing tour, a tour of Pagsanjan falls, a trek to the top of Taal volcano and a tour of Corregidor Island.

“I wanted to take a tour and see something I would never have normally seen,” said Airman Elisabet Laboymendez, from San Jaun, Puerto Rico, a Taal Volcano tour participant.

The strike group is comprised of John C. Stennis with Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9 and Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 21 embarked, Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93), USS Stockdale (DDG 106), USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110) and Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53).

CVW-9 consists of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 71; Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 14; Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 112; Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 133; Fleet Logistics Combat Support Squadron (VRC) 30, Detachment 4 and Strike Fighter Squadrons (VFA) 151, 97, 41 and 14.

Providing a ready force supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific, JCSSG is operating as the Great Green Fleet.

For more news on John C. Stennis visit http://navy.mil/local/cvn74/ or http://www.facebook.com/stennis74.

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