USS Ashland crew cleans-up Umatac - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

USS Ashland crew cleans-up Umatac

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They're heroes both on- and off-duty.

"Today we're trying to help the community by cleaning some of the gutters, the street drains, and the mayor was nice enough to show us around after we finished," said Specialist Christopher Sanker. Earlier this month the amphibious dock landing ship the USS Ashland arrived on Guam. Although their visit was only days long, Sanker, a religious programs specialist, says their top priority was to leave the island a better place.

"We try. We try to do as many community relations projects as we can. Just to help get local with the local community help out a little bit," he added.

The USS Ashland, which is homeported in Sasebo, Japan, brought with them 500 sailors and Marines. The helping hands were much appreciated by Umatac mayor Johnny Aguon Quinata, who says flooding is a longstanding issue for the southern village and waters will rise with rainy season ahead. "I thank you guys all for being here," said the mayor. "And what we're going to be doing today is we're going to be cleaning out the gutters coming from Cella Bay looking out coming out towards Umatac."

"I was so surprised because usually we have to call our sister command to come and help us. I was so happy that our village was the first village they picked. To come down and clean. I told them I would appreciate their help and that I would love the military to come down and help the village and get along with the people of Umatac," he added.

In return, the southern mayor rolled out Guam's famous southern hospitality. "It helped a lot. Anything is a lot of help. You come to my village and you help me I will treat you the way you're supposed to be treated whether you go to any other village. Umatac is a beautiful village to be and the hospitality is nice," Lizama shared gratefully.

But their work didn't stop down south. The following days crew members of the USS Ashland made their way north where they helped prep school grounds for the first day of school at Juan M. Guerrero Elementary School and all the way to Yigo, where they worked with that village's mayor's office to clear pathways to the Chagui'an massacre site in preparation for a memorial ceremony.

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