HONG KONG – A group of Sailors and Marines from USS Makin Island (LHD 8) and the embarked 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) joined local volunteers to help deliver bags of food to residents of the Kwai-Chung Elderly Center in Hong Kong during a community service project May 26.
A group of 35 Sailors and Marines participated in the event as part of the ship’s May 25-28 port visit to Hong Kong.
The project also coincided with local observances of Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and the upcoming Dragon Boat festival in June.
Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handing) 1st Class Mark Higgenbottom, one of the Sailors volunteered for the project, said that in addition to bringing food and sundry items to the residents he shared his time with men like Cheung Kin Yip.
Through a translator, Higgenbottom said he got to know the 70 year-old man and found out that he enjoys table tennis and the Internet.
“Mr. Yip was hip for an old guy,” said Higgenbottom. “The guy had a lot of energy and went out of his way to show us he stayed active playing table tennis and using the Internet to stay in touch with his family and friends.”
Yip lives alone in his apartment, which is about the size of a large bedroom in a typical American home and contains a living area, bathroom and kitchen.
Through the translator, he told Higgenbottom that he enjoys a simple life of getting up in the morning and checking the stock market on the Internet and checking his email and Facebook page.
“It’s easier to live on my own,” said Yip through the translator. “I like my independence.”
Lt. Jeff Perry, a chaplain aboard Makin Island who organized the community service project, said he thinks community relations projects like helping the elderly foster good relations in the communities that the Navy and Marine Corps visits.
“Projects like this put a face on the Navy and Marine Corps and helps build a truer and broader image of us and shows another side of the military that isn’t often shown by the media,” said Perry.
The group of Makin Island Sailors and Marines delivered food to two communities and another group of volunteers spent time at a local dog shelter. More than 2,000 Sailors and Marines were able to experience the Hong Kong culture during the four-day port visit.
Makin Island is the first U.S. Navy ship to deploy using a hybrid-electric propulsion system. By using this unique propulsion system, the Navy expects over the course of the ship’s lifecycle, to see fuel savings of more than $250 million, proving the Navy’s commitment to energy awareness and conservation.
This initiative is one of many throughout the Navy and Marine Corps that will enable the Department of the Navy to achieve the Secretary of the Navy’s energy goals to improve our energy security and efficiency afloat and ashore, increase our energy independence and help lead the nation toward a clean energy economy.
Makin Island is the flagship of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group that is currently deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.
The 7th Fleet area of operations includes more than 52 million square miles of the Pacific and Indian oceans, stretching from the international date line to the east coast of Africa, and from the Kuril Islands in the north to the Antarctic in the south.