By Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan Burke,
USS Ronald Reagan Public Affairs
WATERS SURROUNDING THE KOREAN PENINSULA – The Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), departed Busan, Republic of Korea (ROK), Oct. 21 after a scheduled five-day port visit.
Ronald Reagan arrived in Busan Oct. 16 after participating in Exercise Invincible Spirit 2016. During the visit, Sailors experienced local culture and participated in a variety of command-sponsored projects and tours.
“We are incredibly thankful for the hospitality of the people of the ROK and their ability to graciously host the volume of Sailors we bring each year,” said Capt. Buzz Donnelly, Ronald Reagan’s commanding officer. “I look forward to continuing to develop our countries’ bonds, both ashore and at sea.”
Ronald Reagan’s Command Religious Ministries Department coordinated 10 projects for Sailors to interact with the local community, including visits to an orphanage, senior-citizen homes, local schools and a vocational rehabilitation center for people with disabilities.
“My younger brother (has) autism,” said Seaman Ngozi Williams, assigned to the “Diamondbacks” from Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 102, from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, “so any time I can, I like to volunteer to help those with disabilities and those in need. Basically, it’s a way to stay connected to my brother while I’m here, and it’s the best way I can give back.”
Reagan Sailors also experienced Korea through 10 tours offered by the ship’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) Department. Tour packages included trips ranging from a day trip to Seoul to a mountain temple hike.
“I really like nature and hiking, and this seemed like a good way to see more of Korea,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Ian Baker, from Wellington, Ohio.
MWR also held a no-cost raffle offering Sailors an opportunity to visit the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) located between the ROK and the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK).
“To be able to feel the tension between the two countries and to say I’ve stepped foot in North Korea is pretty phenomenal,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Kim Snider, from Mooresville, North Carolina. “I believe this trip is important for our Sailors to experience because it teaches us history. It teaches us the sacrifices made by our fellow military service members, where we came from and why we do what we do today.”
“The heart of our mission starts with the strength of our partnerships throughout the region,” said Donnelly. “It’s through these events that Reagan Sailors strengthen our ties with the people of Republic of Korea and continue to build the alliance between our two counties.”