News: Cowpens sailors bring smiles and snacks to children of the Philippines
By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ricardo R. Guzman
USS Cowpens Public Affairs
PHILIPPINE SEA – The “Scorpions” of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 49, Detachment 6, started a snack drive aboard the Ticonderoga guided-missile cruiser USS Cowpens (CG 63) Nov. 18, to further support the Republic of the Philippines in Operation Damayan.
HSL-49’s SH-60B Seahawk helicopters have been providing supplies to the locals affected by Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda and have commenced collecting cookies, potato chips, candy and other various snacks for the children.
“The impact of the USS Cowpens crew since its arrival in the Philippines is far greater than words can describe,” said Naval Aircrewman William Casson, from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “It wasn’t until I started seeing the children that my heart strings were pulled.”
The squadron has been collecting snacks in the ship’s hangar bay in a box labeled “for the children.” This has been a highlight for Casson and his shipmates during supply drops.
“Today, in addition to the supplies we picked up from various locations and distributed throughout the area, I took three boxes of cookies, crackers,” said Casson. “The children received their own taste of something that I hope is familiar and the look on their faces was ecstatic. We have a collection in the hanger for the crew to drop off any candy, snacks, or food they desire.”
Cowpens’ ship store has been selling large quantities or bulk items to crew members eager to donate. Some even write messages for the kids on the items.
“I went to the ship’s store to buy candy, but they were sold out, so instead I bought them a big box of chips,” said Chief Electrician’s Mate Conrad Ventura, from Manila, Republic of Philippines. “I wrote them a message on the box because I think it’s important to communicate with them and let them know we’re here to help and we’ll help them get through it. It makes me happy every time I see photos of these kids smiling.”
Some sailors kept various snacks on-hand during the helicopter supply-drops with intentions to ensure each treat makes its way into a child’s hand.
“Let me tell you first hand, these people are hungry, and the smiles left behind after every drop, drive the point home,” said Casson. “Our aircraft, along with other helicopters that utilize our flight deck, have delivered hundreds of thousands of pounds of food and fresh water.”
Cowpens, in close coordination with the Philippine government, Marines, soldiers and other international aid organizations is still delivering items to assist Philippine citizens in affected areas.
“We can deliver supplies, much needed supplies and assistance like medicines, water, fuel, rice, energy biscuits and so forth,” said Capt. Gregory Gombert, Cowpens’ commanding officer. “These are things most folks take for granted in easier places to live, but the most important thing we deliver, I think, is hope.”
Cowpens is with the George Washington Strike Group supporting the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade to assist the Philippines government in response to the aftermath of the Super typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda.