ABOARD THE USS TARAWA -- A group of 23 Marines and Sailors from the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) donated a portion of their liberty time during a recent stop in Hawaii, lending “a few good hands” to aid homeless shelters in the Honolulu metropolitan area.
The unit arrived at Naval Station Pearl Harbor on the island of Oahu for a port call and liberty during the early stages of a Western Pacific deployment.
Pulling into the port July 21, the Marines and Sailors of the MEU traded work uniforms for civilian attire. After a night of socializing and relaxing, the servicemembers reported to the quarterdeck of the USS TARAWA (LHA 1) for voluntary community service.
Upon arrival to the Institute for Human Services in downtown Honolulu, the volunteers rolled up their sleeves and went to work scrubbing and disinfecting living areas within the shelter.
Evan Sabo-Quizon, a full-time IHS shelter employee, said that large volunteer groups, like the Marines from the 13th MEU are always appreciated.
“Anyone who volunteers to help is always a blessing,” Sabo said, “but we were really surprised to find out that all of you guys were coming.”
Sabo was also aware that the servicemembers were donating time normally set aside for sightseeing, and was impressed with the amount of dedication shown on their part.
“That’s really ‘solid’,” he said. “It shows that people actually care.”
After completing work at the first shelter in half the allotted time, the volunteers loaded vans and traveled across town to another IHS shelter designated for women, performing similar services with the same enthusiasm.
Marines and Sailors were more than happy to work together for a needy cause, and each service member had different reasons for wanting to help.
According to Cpl. Nickolas Mosley, an administrative clerk with the 13th MEU(SOC) personnel office, “It’s a good way to spend your time, giving back to people who don’t have as much as you do.”
Mosley, one of many Marines serving his second Western Pacific deployment with the unit, visited Hawaii twice before, and was eager to act as a goodwill ambassador for the Marine Corps.
“When we come here and do this community a service … it says a great deal about the Marine Corps and gives us a better name in the community.”
The 22-year-old Oklahoma City native said that in addition to giving back to a worthy cause, the event also helped restore his inner balance, which can become scrambled during a less-than-relaxing duration of time on ship.
“This really gives Marines a sense of accomplishment, and it helps me balance my stress from the ship,” said Mosley, “I can actually move around and (talk) with people.”
Major William N. Pigott, 13th MEU(SOC) Staff Judge Advocate, coordinated the community service event, and said both stops were a complete success, dubbing each volunteer “gung-ho,” and calling the effort “extremely dedicated and enthusiastic.”
“The Marines and Sailors worked together and made a difference in the lives of men, women and families,” said Pigott, adding, “Our command recognizes that volunteering is a rewarding team-building exercise that allows us to meet new people and make the world a better place.”
The community service event in Hawaii is only one of several planned port call community relations events, and marked the beginning of a successful Western Pacific deployment.
For more information about the Fighting 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (SOC), visit the unit’s Web site at www.usmc.mil/13thmeu.