CHONBURI, Thailand -- Service members assigned to forward-deployed amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay (LPD 20) participated in two cultural exchange projects in Chonburi, Thailand, Feb. 8-9.
56 Sailors and Marines assigned to Green Bay, Naval Beach Unit (NBU) 7 and the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) interacted with more than 700 youth and staff members from Ban Thung Grad School and the Child Protection and Development Center.
"Most of our Sailors and Marines have never been to Thailand before so these opportunities for cultural exchange are great memories for them and an encouragement to continue to get involved," said Lt. Danny Cho, Green Bay's command chaplain.
Service members were greeted with a traditional dance performed by the students at Bang Thung Grad School, which provides education to more than 600 Thai primary students.
After exchanging greetings, the students and service members challenged each other to push up and arm-wrestling contests and played soccer, volleyball, basketball, tug of war, jump rope and other games.
"It was a privilege to have the opportunity to participate in both community service projects," said Seaman Preston Mayer. "It was fun being able to play sports and be involved in different activities with the kids. Even though we don't speak the same language, we got along great. It was a very rewarding experience."
The Child Protection and Development Center is run by the Human Help Network Foundation Thailand which provides support to underprivileged, homeless, abused and broken family children.
At the center, service members introduced themselves, played sports, painted and danced with the children. Green Bay's Dental Officer, Lt. Michael Siy, demonstrated to the children good oral hygiene practices. The children performed a dance routine before giving a tour of the animal farm, garden and facilities.
"My favorite part about community service is being with the kids," said Operations Specialist Seaman Catherina Watson. "I joined the Navy to help people and I think this is the best way to interact with different cultures. Getting to eat and play with them is the best experience."
Green Bay is in Thailand to participate in Exercise Cobra Gold 2019. Exercise Cobra Gold, in its 38th iteration, will be held from Feb. 12-23, 2019 with 29 nations participating including Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Republic of Korea, and Singapore. The exercise emphasizes coordination on civic action, such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, seeking to expand regional cooperation and collaboration in these vital areas.
Green Bay, a San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship, was commissioned by the U.S. Navy in 2009. The ship is forward deployed to Sasebo, Japan as part of Commander, Amphibious Force 7th Fleet and is operating in the Indo-Pacific region to enhance interoperability with partners and serve as a ready-response force for any type of contingency.