By MC1(SW/AW) Rafael Figueroa
C7F Public Affairs
GUIUAN, Republic of the Philippines - When the debris cleared from Typhoon Haiyan in the town of Guiuan, Republic of the Philippines, the town’s Church was is ruins; the priest of the parish informed a Navy survey team that they did not have enough supplies on hand to offer mass. On Nov. 16, the Navy was there to answer the call.
Chaplain Lt. Brian Kirschenbaum, of Carrier Air Wing five, assisted aircrews in the Guiuan area with the loading and unloading of supplies and interacted with local citizens who were in need of food and shelter. Members from the U.S. aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) helped hundreds of people receive spiritual support in a dire time when they gave the church the needed supplies to conduct their mass.
“During my time with the aircrew, I gained an even greater appreciation for the difficult tasks that our helicopter crews accomplish every day,” said Kirschenbaum. “Knowing and experiencing their mission has already enabled me to engage the crew on a new level as their chaplain.”
U.S. Navy chaplains are playing a key role during Operation Damayan supporting their fellow Sailors and Marines throughout the region, including support on the ground during relief efforts. Chaplain Lt. Allan Bushnell from Destroyer Squadron Fifteen embarked onboard USS Mustin, operating near Ormoc Bay, was one of the first Navy chaplains on the ground. His care and presence help support more than 100 Sailors, as he helped prepare and run the landing zones to distribute supplies to the surrounding communities.
“I am proud of these chaplains of all faiths and the religious program specialists who support them in delivering religious ministry to our Sailors as they assist the people of the Philippines in Operation Damayan,” said Chaplain Capt. John M. Shimotsu, Seventh Fleet Chaplain
United States Navy chaplains are stationed all over the globe, supporting not only members from the Department of the Navy, but U.S. service members as a whole. U.S. Navy chaplains don’t just provide spiritual guidance; they also help support the well-being of service members during difficult times.
There are more than 850 service members on ground in support of Operation Damayan and more than 6,200 Sailors assisting from the USS George Washington Strike Group.