News: Marines from Okinawa touch lives at Thailand orphanage
Story by Lance Cpl. Daniel Flynn
More than 25 Marines and Sailors deployed in support of exercise Cobra Gold 2009 participated in a community relations event Feb. 7 at the Father Ray Children's Village Orphanage in Pattaya, Thailand.
All of the children gathered around to greet the Marines and Sailors with smiles on their faces when the service members arrived at the orphanage.
The Marines and Sailors who participated planted trees for the orphanage. After that, they visited, played and ate lunch with children who live there.
"It gives the children hope to see people from around the world care about them," said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Robert Slaughter, chaplain for Combat Logistics Regiment 3, 3rd Marine Logistics Group. "It is a great opportunity for U.S. military members to be great ambassadors to Thailand."
After the initial greeting between service members and the children, the Marines and Sailors planted 40 trees throughout the orphanage.
With the manual labor out of the way, the Marines and Sailors gave their undivided attention to the children.
"Being here is a great and very humbling experience," said Lance Cpl. Thomas Mills, a cryogenic technician with Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing. "It makes you appreciate what you have."
After approximately an hour of playing with the children, Marines and Sailors enjoyed lunch cooked on a grill by the orphanage staff.
"I believe you see the face of God when you serve others, especially children," said Lt. j.g. Mark Torres, chaplain for Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st MAW.
Service members who participate in these types of events are pushed out of their comfort zone and that helps them to grow, he added.
The children at the orphanage warmed up to the Marines and Sailors very quickly. The positive interaction and smiles on the faces of both children and service members alike was proof of the event's success.
When it was time for the Marines and Sailors to leave, the looks in the children's eyes indicated they would not soon forget the visit.
Cobra Gold is an annually scheduled joint, coalition exercise and is the latest in the continuing series of military exercises designed to promote regional peace and stability.