By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Beverly J. Lesonik
WATERS NEAR GUAM – The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) departed Guam after a four-day goodwill port visit, Oct. 5.
The visit provided Sailors well-deserved liberty and opportunities to engage with Guam citizens, and culminated with the Commander, Task Force 70 change of command ceremony.
“Sailors had a wonderful opportunity to explore Guam’s beautiful waters and island landscape after working hard to complete Valiant Shield 2014,” said Capt. Greg Fenton, George Washington’s commanding officer. “It was a great time for them to volunteer with the locals and experience a taste of home.”
The port visit set the stage for the CTF-70 change of command ceremony. Rear Adm. John Alexander assumed command of CTF-70 from Rear Adm. Mark Montgomery who reflected upon his time as commander, Battle Force 7th Fleet.
“I feel very fortunate to have commanded 10 ships, 10 squadrons and nearly 10,000 personnel permanently assigned here and all the rotational ships from 3rd fleet,” said Montgomery. “I just can’t say enough what a fantastic team I had out here. It’s really been a great opportunity for myself and my family.”
In addition to an estimated 250 guests who attended the change of command ceremony, Sailors also gave more than 200 Guam citizens an opportunity to tour George Washington during its visit. Sailors also participated in six community relations (COMREL) projects and competed against local teams five sporting events.
“It means a lot to us for Sailors to take time out of their day to assist us at the hospital,” said Gordon Mizusawa, Guam Memorial Hospital’s associate administrator of operations, during a COMREL at the Guam Memorial Hospital. “Everyone was very friendly and we had a good time together. They weren’t just volunteers today, they were our friends.”
Sailors donated their time to COMRELs and their blood in support of Naval Hospital Guam’s Blood Donor Center, Oct. 3-4.
“The Armed Services Blood Program provides blood for service members and their families throughout the Department of Defense,” said Lt. John Stephan, Naval Hospital Guam laboratory department head. “Blood we collect from Sailors can go anywhere. We just sent units to help in the Philippines and it’s also sent anywhere in the Pacific that needs it.”
Between volunteering and donating blood Sailors were able to explore Guam through Morale, Welfare and Recreational (MWR) excursions that took them to various sites across the island.