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Sailors Volunteer to Help Evacuees

Created on Thursday, 31 March 2011 03:42
Last Updated on Monday, 22 July 2013 20:45
Written by Dawn Olsen
Hits: 4563
March 31, 2011 Courtesy of Military.com

SEATTLE -- Aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) Sailors, spouses and hundreds of volunteers with the United Service Organizations (USO) assisted evacuated servicemembers and their families from Honshu, Japan at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac), March 24.

Hundreds of evacuees from Japan returned to the U.S. via military chartered flights to Sea-Tac since March 19 and hundreds more are scheduled to arrive throughout the weekend.

"We want to welcome them home," said Army Maj. Darren Jennings, Processing Operation officer. "We understand they've been through a rough experience and a trying time in Japan, and a lot of them are single mothers. We're providing a place they can relax before we get them to their final destination."

Jennings said most of the travelers have their itinerary for their next flight, so volunteers check orders, make overnight arrangements, and answer questions evacuees may have.

"It was a long, rough flight," said Danielle Hubbard, wife of Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Christopher Hubbard. "Everyone here has been very helpful. Processing has been very smooth; they've definitely made it an easy transition."

Volunteers also assisted with baggage, walked dogs, bagged snacks and made sandwiches.

"People have donated a lot of supplies," said Kat Ring, wife of Nimitz' Executive Officer Capt. John Ring. "These families have been through a lot, and it's good to see things are flowing here successfully."

Childcare was also provided while adult passengers continued processing or made hotel and transportation arrangements.

"It's great," said Hubbard. "I can get things done and not worry about my kids getting bored."

Volunteers were not assigned to specific jobs, said Dana Lewis, wife of Nimitz' Air Boatswain's Mate Ens. Brian Lewis.

"If there is someone we can help or something we see that needs to be done, we do it," said Lewis.

Nimitz Personnel Specialist Seaman Ian Kowalczyk said he felt it was important to volunteer to help fellow servicemembers and their families.

"These people lost everything they had, and we need to be there to show our support," said Kowalczyk.

Volunteers are working shifts 24 hours a day at Sea-Tac as planes continue to arrive from Japan.

"It's comforting to see so many military volunteers," said Hubbard. "They know where you're coming from and exactly what your needs are."

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