Saturday, May 24, 2008

On Our Way!


Dear Family and Friends,

We departed Guam this morning and are headed to our first mission stop in Cotabato, Republic of the Philippines. While in Guam we embarked about 250 more medical and engineering persons. This brings our total crew size up to around 850 personnel embarked. Eight hundred and fifty people!! That is incredible to me. My “other” ship – USNS John Ericsson – has a crew of about 85. To think there are now 10 times that number aboard is staggering and more then just a little humbling. This might be a US Navy mission; however, we also have folks embarked from the Army and Air Force as well as the US Public Health Service. Additionally, we have been joined by medical contingents from Canada, Australia, and Japan (with other partner nations soon to join at a later date).

The mission planning work continues. I have attended more meetings in the last 3 months then I care to think about (and I hate going to meetings). Each day it seems there are more emails to read and more memos to write. Training and drills for the crew are a non-stop endeavor to keep everyone safe. And then, of course, there are the usual daily “captain” things that require my attention: Review the navigation; check on impending weather; read and sign the logbook; and submit the myriad of routine reports enjoyed by bureaucrats everywhere.

Two factors keep me going and make this all worthwhile: The first is how important this mission is and what it means to the people we will be seeing at our mission sights. The second reason is the enthusiasm of these 850 wonderful people around me. They are pumped-up and ready to go!

I want you to take a minute and think about something, dear readers. I want you to think about the phrase “Taking my kid to the doctor.” In the United States this is a pretty common expression for a usually common event. Unless, of course, it’s for an emergency - “taking my kid to the doctor” (for a check-up, an earache, or maybe a cold) is a routine and unremarkable part of daily life. We’ll try and fit it in between the grocery shopping and getting the car washed. Now I want you to think about what it would be like if you lived in a place where this event was not routine. What if you couldn’t ‘just’ take your kid to the doctor? Think what it would be like to hear your child coughing and not know if it was just a cold or, perhaps, something worse. Imagine how helpless you would feel if you had no means to ease your child’s suffering from a bad earache?

The USNS Mercy is on her way to give people an opportunity to do something they never in their lives have had the opportunity to do. These people will soon be “taking their kid to the doctor!”

More to come…

Bob

7 comments:

Marian Moran said...

Thank you for the update ! I love the picture, maybe it's my son Kemo. Safe sailing, you are appreciated. Marian Moran

Conboy46 said...

I appreciate your blog, and the information is is providing for the families. My son Lamar is aboard on his first cruise since joining the Navy. I am so proud of him, and of the opportunity he has to serve aboard your ship on this very important mission. Bless You, and your crew of such fine diversity.
Connie Conboy

Anne Bastianelli said...

I look forward to reading your blog. It makes me feel closer to my son Anthony. This is his first assignment on a ship. If you see him on May 30th, please wish him Happy Birthday for me.Thanks,
Anne Bastianelli

Darlene said...

Thank you so much for writting these blogs!!! My boyfriend, Keith Cannon, is aboard and it gives me peace of mind knowing whats going on and where you guys are at. Thank you again and Keep up the great work!
Darlene Ryder

John said...

Captain, I am very impressed with your daily posts when you find the time to do so. You are so right in you asking your readers to think about how we have it here compared to other places in the world that ae just so poor they can not be so concerned about medical or dental needs till it is too late.

I have been to many places in my 22.5 years in the Navy and the Philippines to me is a very poor country when you get out of the bigger cities. I have seen how the poor in Western Samar suffer. I have been to and lived on Sto Nino island visiting my wife's family many times. Our last trip was in May/June 2007 and was very saddened by how many children walk around with injuries. Open wounds that in America would be stitched up vice being open and infected. We sent a lot of medical supplies ahead of our trip for our use just in case. When I saw a small boy from the family with a wound on his hand that was very large, red and inflected, I took our medical supplies and cared for him. It is so sad that most Americans take things for granted while others suffer daily around the world.

Please pass onto your crew that this CPO is very proud of what they will be doing over the coming months. I wish I could be there with you all.

LIC J.T. Van Warrebey, USN Ret.

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