By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Beverly J. Lesonik
HONG KONG – Sailors assigned to the U.S. Navy’s forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) interacted and played basketball with teenagers during a community relations (COMRELs) project with the Playground Association, June 18.
Sailors met the teenagers at the Leung Tin Sports Centre where they taught Navy warm-up exercises and played friendly matches of basketball to build relationships and share experiences.
“I had a great time and it was so much fun to hang out with people from Hong Kong,” said Logistics Specialist 3rd Class Anthony Assetta, from Pittsburgh, Penn. “COMRELs are one of my favorite things to do in ports because I have a great opportunity to meet locals that I normally wound not have met on my own.”
COMRELs were established by the Department of Defense in order to foster and further good relations with communities around the world. They help to earn public support and understanding of operations, missions, and requirements of the Military Services, and to increase understanding of U.S. defense posture and capabilities by increasing public exposure.
“It was good for Navy members to come out and play with us,” said Steve Wong, a staff member from the Playground Association. “The kids have a lot of fun and love to learn about what Sailors do and what America is like.”
Participants sat with Sailors in-between games and ate snacks as they asked Sailors what life on a ship is like and told Sailors about their own lives.
“My favorite part from this whole experience is talking with teens and finding out what they want to do in life,” said Assetta. “We go to their ports and we get to come to their country, so I feel like it is important to learn about them and let them learn about us.”
George Washington and its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, provide a combat-ready force that protects and defends the collective maritime interest of the U.S. and its allies and partners in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.