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Cambodians Get Medical Aid, Lessons From U.S.


Cambodians Get Medical Aid, English Lessons from U.S. Military

Providing medical and dental care, teaching English, fixing buildings and strengthening military ties between the United States and Cambodia were among the projects the USS Essex and a Marine expeditionary unit attached to the ship undertook during a recent port visit to Sihanoukville, Cambodia.

"Essex sailors are honored to have the opportunity to visit the Kingdom of Cambodia as part of the broadening and deepening relations between our navies and our two governments," Captain Brian T. Donegan, the Essex's commanding officer, said in a U.S. Navy press release.

During their weeklong visit November 26-December 1, U.S. military personnel worked with Cambodian teams to provide medical services -- including cataract surgery -- and dental care to communities in Cambodia's Kampong Cham and Preah Vihear provinces and to construct two bridges and a culvert to connect the villages of Sre Sa and Oloy in Kampong Chhnang province.

The Essex and the Marine unit also conducted military-to-military training; participated in a three-day cultural exchange program at the National Defense University in Phnom Penh; and performed community relations projects such as making basic repairs to buildings, providing basic English classes and distributing donated materials such as books and clothing through the U.S. Navy's Project Handclasp program.

On the lighter side, sailors and Marines played duck-duck-goose, hopscotch, marbles and soccer (football) games with children at local primary schools; participated in a soccer tournament and barbecue with Cambodian army cadets at Ream Naval Base in Sihanoukville; and attended the second annual Christmas lighting ceremony at the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh. The U.S. 7th Fleet band also performed with local musicians at an orphanage.

"Having Essex come here allowed us to give something to the Cambodian people," Lieutenant Commander Ronnie Mangsat of Amphibious Squadron 11 said in a release from the Essex's public affairs office. "Coming here shows them what we are capable of and that we are willing to take the time to help our new friends."

The Essex's visit was the second by a U.S. Navy ship to Cambodia in 2007; the USS Gary visited in February. The Sihanoukville port visit was part of the Essex's annual fall patrol to East and Southeast Asia, during which the crew and its Marine unit will conduct training events focusing on sea- and land-based capabilities and interact with local communities.

ENDS

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