Friday, August 22, 2008

Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group Departs Malaysia

By Mass Communication Specialist (SW/AW) 1st Class Bill Larned Carrier Strike Group 7 Public Affairs

Three ships and more than 5,000 Sailors of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 7 departed Malaysia Aug. 21 after routine port visits highlighted by displays of good will, community service and a variety of cultural tours.

The strike group's flagship, the Nimitz-class nuclear aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 14, the guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG 62), and the guided-missile destroyer USS Gridley (DDG 101) departed Port Klang.

While in Kuala Lumpur, more than 200 strike group Sailors volunteered to help make a difference in several Malaysian communities by participating in eight community relations projects at local children's homes.

Chief petty officer selectees from Ronald Reagan painted the Agathians Shelter Children's Home in Petaling Jaya, a neighboring city.

"The children's home is a very small house and is Hindu. It receives a lot less financial help than other children's homes in Petaling Jaya. Everyone at the home was grateful for our help," said Chief Religious Programs Specialist (FMF/AW/SW) Marcus Taylor, leading chief petty officer for Ronald's Reagan's Religious Ministries Department.

Sailors also embarked on tours offered by morale, welfare and recreation. Several buses traveled to the Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary, a shelter used to relocate elephants that disturb crops and farmland. Upon arrival, Sailors watched a 45-minute documentary about the sanctuary's mission supporting the elephants. Afterwards, many Sailors hand-fed the elephants and enjoyed escorted rides atop the elephants, which included a chance to bathe with them in a nearby river.

"The elephant sanctuary was peaceful. You won't get a chance to ride an elephant anywhere else," said Aviation Electrician's Mate Airman Apprentice Daniel Griffith, from VFA-115.

Some Sailors preferred the fast pace of the city to rural Malaysia.

During a tour of downtown Kuala Lumpur, Sailors perused Chinatown, the central market and Independence Square, all against the backdrop of the 88-floor twin Petronas Towers in the Golden Triangle business district.

"It was really interesting viewing different architecture, trying out the local cuisine and talking to the people of Malaysia," said Air Traffic Controller 1st Class (AW) Jaclyn Vargas.

The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group is in the U.S. 7th Fleet's area of responsibility as part of a routine deployment to promote peace, cooperation and stability in the region. Homeported in San Diego, Ronald Reagan is the Navy's newest Nimitz-class aircraft carrier.