By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nathan Burke, USS Ronald Reagan Public Affairs
CHANGWON CITY, Republic of Korea – Forty two Sailors from the U.S. Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) traveled to Changwon City to visit the Jinhae Hope Children Home (JHCH) during a good hope port visit to Busan, Republic of Korea, Oct. 31.
The visit was highlighted by a hike along Jinhae Coastal Road and up Jinhae Tower Mountain bringing together Sailors from the U.S. and Republic of Korea navies, JHCH children, social workers and local volunteers.
“We love having you here,” said David Kyungmin Lee, director of Jinhae Hope Children Home.
Lee stressed his appreciation for the long lasting relationship between the U.S. Navy and the Jinhae Hope Children Home, which was founded by his grandfather, Yak Shin Lee.
“The U.S. Navy and the orphanage has had a great relationship for 69 years,” said Lee. “We like to remember your support, especially during the Korean War, when it was very difficult. The U.S. Navy came to help us with food, clothing and shelter.”
The hike allowed Sailors the opportunity to interact with JHCH children, which included an overlook of the surrounding area, singing, hula hooping, a martial arts demonstration, and a gift exchange.
“The best part of the visit was seeing the smiles on the children’s faces,” said Religious Programs Specialist 1st Class Brandon Reed, from Bothell, Washington. “I love seeing the kids smiling, happy and playing and running around.”
JHCH, dedicated to protecting, raising and mentoring children to grow up as good members of society supports more than 70 children and 20 staff members. The JHCH children range in age from toddlers to college students.
“I came for the interaction with the kids,” said Chief Aviation Machinist’s Mate Walter Castillo, from Los Angeles. “It gets to me. To be so young and to have so little, but yet there’s hope because there is someone who cares and is helping. Someone who said ‘we are going to take you, we are going to raise you’.”
Castillo’s talent of shaping balloons was a hit with the JHCH children, which according to him was a skill he learned 20 years ago during his service in the Navy and one he has used at similar community relation events throughout his career.
“My favorite part of today was making animals with the balloons,” said Kim Yoon Jin, a JHCH child.
According to Castillo, he was glad to see the enthusiasm Sailors brought to the event.
“It feels good that the bus was completely full,” said Castillo. “That’s pretty good. “
At the conclusion of the visit Lee thanked the visitors for their service and support.
“Thank you very much for your support to keep the Korean Peninsula at peace,” said Lee. “God bless the U.S. Navy, God bless the U.S.A. and God bless all of you.”
Ronald Reagan and its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, provide a combat-ready force that protects and defends the collective maritime interests of the U.S. and its allies and partners in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.