Sailors assigned to the submarine tender USS Frank Cable (AS 40) completed two days of back-to-back community service (COMSERV) projects at the Chao King senior community center and Sunshine Action youth center, Dec. 4-5.
Sailors traveled throughout the city, led by Frank Cable chaplain Lt. Cmdr. John Miyahara, who said that the purpose of these visits was to get the crew out beyond tourist areas of Hong Kong and see a real community.
“When we enter a country, we bring with us a spirit of service,” said Miyahara. “And COMSERVs reflect that our Navy is made of people, not just uniforms.”
When Sailors arrived at the senior center on the first day, they were enthusiastically welcomed by the elderly residents, who smiled, waved and shook hands with Sailors. Once settled, each Sailor went around the room, introduced themselves and talked about where they were from and their job in the Navy.
“It signifies our strength as a country to be able to cooperate with other countries, and to demonstrate the diversity of our United States Navy,” said Electrician’s Mate 3rd Class Juan Suarez Ayala, a Frank Cable Sailor who attended the COMSERV. “It’s the best thing we can do as an entity, serving and cooperating with others, regardless of our cultural backgrounds.”
During the event Sailors performed card tricks and played charades with the residents. Sailors also asked questions of the residents and learned a bit of the Cantonese language while translator Dick Ng bridged the language barrier.
“With people of different cultures, if you can just say a word or two it says to them that these Sailors want to learn more about me and respect me,” said Miyahara.
On the second day, Frank Cable Sailors traveled to Hong Kong’s Cha Kwo Ling neighborhood where they met Sunny Mak, director of the Sunshine Action youth center, who talked a little about the center.
“We started in 2008 with the mission to help the poorest people,” said Mak. “The people who live here in the area are low income families or very poor. I want them to have more interaction with different countries, different cultures, and see the other side of the world.”
While awaiting the arrival of the teens, Mak took Sailors on a tour of the neighborhood introducing them to residents. Many even welcomed Sailors into their homes.
“In the midst of the meager living conditions, we experienced a great deal of community from the residents of the village,” said Miyahara. “People were out talking, sharing meals, and playing mahjong, sipping tea. There were also many gardens where people grew and shared vegetables.”
Sailors also had the opportunity to meet Cherry, a double amputee who has won several medals at the Beijing Paralympics.
“When we met the young lady, Cherry, who had no arms, but was a swimming gold medalist, we saw a great deal of pride from her family and other villagers as she showed us her medals and the beautiful paintings she made with her feet,” said Miyahara.
After the tour, Sailors returned to the center and introduced themselves to the teens. The children were shy at first, but they quickly opened up to the Sailors, conversing about music, movies, life stories, as well as a few simple games.
“I would like people to think that we do not always focus on the material things, and that we also want people to have a lot of interactions, talking about ideas and cultures,” said Mak.
Frank Cable is conducting maintenance and support of submarines and surface vessels deployed in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility.
Naval Today Staff, December 10, 2012