Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Peleliu Heading Home After Pacific Deployment

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) Jason McKnight USS Peleliu Public Affairs

USS PELELIU, At Sea (NNS) -- USS Peleliu (LHA 5) and its embarked staff of international Pacific Partnership volunteers headed to its homeport of San Diego after a brief port visit in Pearl Harbor, Sept. 15.

The visit to Hawaii saw many civilian and military augmentees of this summer's four-month long humanitarian deployment disembark the ship to return to their homes and parent commands.

Commander, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 31, based in Pearl Harbor, was one of those commands which made up the unique team of military and civilian professionals of Pacific Partnership.

"I was continually amazed, but not surprised, by the passion these people displayed during this mission," said Capt. Bruce Stewart, DESRON-31 and mission commander for Pacific Partnership. "Every challenge which came up was overcome by their perseverance and their dedication to helping complete every task, but more importantly, they always seemed to keep in mind our mission to help our host nations' people."

Peleliu's Commanding Officer, Capt. Ed Rhoades, echoed Stewart's assessment.

During a briefing welcoming friends and family members who embarked for a Tiger Cruise back to San Diego, Rhoades said he could not be prouder of the work and professionalism his crew had shown during deployment.

"I think you'll see what I mean as you cruise with us this next week," said Rhoades. "I am truly blessed to lead such a wonderful group of young men and women. They have truly gone above all expectations of job accomplishment this summer, and they continue to excel every day."

Peleliu, an amphibious assault ship, was deployed for the U.S. Pacific Fleet’s humanitarian mission and was manned and outfitted with Navy Seabees and their equipment. It embarked a much higher-than-normal number of doctors, nurses, and health professionals. Even an Army veterinarian was embarked.

Both military and non-governmental organization civilian volunteers augmented the crew for Pacific Partnership. By the end of the deployment, this group had a distinctly international flavor. Nations including Canada, Australia, India, Vietnam, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Japan, and Korea all sent representatives to be part of this mission of mercy.

Peleliu will return to homeport later in September and, after a post-overseas movement standdown, will commence training for its next scheduled deployment.