Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Dear Family & Friends,

Getting a Merchant Marine officer to put on the “Choker” style Dress White uniform is kind of like giving your cat a bath. Especially to a stinky old tanker captain like myself. Nevertheless, I will gladly make the exception when given an opportunity to represent USNS Mercy and participate in a wreath laying ceremony at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial. What an incredible day we had yesterday! Commodore Kearns, Captain Rice, and I (along with a number of Mercy’s crew) had the honor of visiting this beautiful resting place of over 17,000 American servicemen who gave their lives liberating the Philippines during WWII. At the monument is a circle of stone walls engraved with over 37,000 names of those who are missing from the Pacific campaign. Included are the names of the 5 Sullivan brothers who were lost aboard USS Juneau during the battle of Guadalcanal. When you say “seventeen thousand” the number numbs your mind - until you actually see all those individual markers perfectly aligned throughout the cemetery. It is particularly sobering to think that most of these were boys between the ages of 18 to 21. If you ever get the chance to visit Manila, I highly recommend you take the opportunity the visit this place of honor. It’s well worth it!

We arrived in Manila (Pearl of the Orient) Sunday afternoon. I got to get out in town for a little bit. We were mostly busy. In addition to the ceremony, Mercy hosted a reception Monday night for a whole bunch of dignitaries. Our old friend Ambassador Kenny came aboard to wish us well and say goodbye. Good party and good times were had by all!

Our stay in Manila was much to short. We departed this afternoon and are now on our way to Nha Trang, Vietnam. We will rendezvous with USNS Tippecanoe tomorrow for a little gas – about 600,000 gallons (you wouldn’t like the mileage on this ride). We’ll be there Thursday morning! We’re ready to begin phase II of this little sojourn.

More to come…



jan and jack said...

captain bob.
we just wanted to thank you for having a blog so we can keep track of where you are and what you are doing. our daughter is aboard your ship and it gives us great joy to know where she is and the great work she is a part of.
thanks again
jan and jack brucker

pilot said...

Hello Bob
I follow your blog from Durban, South Africa and just want to thank you for allowing me to see a slice of your life.

Whilst I am not in the military, I love all things do with technology and the military, so this enables me - in some small way - to be a part of the defense force of an awesome country.

Thank you and keep sailing well and making a difference.

Navy Mom said...

Hi Captain Wiley,
you all are doing a fantastic job, and as I said in previous responses, I cannot wait to read your blog.
Thanks for all you, and the crew of the Mercy are doing. You all sacrifice part of your lifes to help others, but what goes around comes around and you'll be rewarded later, plus you'll have great memories, and the knowledge, and the satisfaction: "Yes, I can do anything I put my head and soul in to!"
Great job, and more success on phase two, people in need are waiting for you and you are prepared and ready, and in the right spirit. Keep it up....
Take care of you and the crew, lead them well through the seas,
Renate Di-D0

John said...

Captain Bob

First, I hope your crew had some time to relax in Manila before heading off to the next location.

I really enjoy the PP2008 site and your blog. For me as a retired sailor, it makes me proud to see the sailors doing a mission that helps so many.

In my trip to the Philippines next May, I am going to make it a priority to visit the American Cemetery and Memorial in Manila.

Please pass on to your crew a Thank You for your service.


gale said...

Captain Bob,
Thank you so much for keeping us all up to date on what is going on the Mercy.Our daughterinlaw is a Navy nurse on board.We are so impressed and proud of the work you are all doing in the Pacific.It makes her time away from our son more bearable know what good you are doing in that part of the world!!

Anonymous said...

Hello Captain Wiley-

Well our son Ben Christian has told me that he just loves wearing his 'choker whites'. And I appreciate very much the update on your adventures.

-Nancy Love

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Hello Captain Wiley-

Well our son Ben Christian has told us that he just loves wearing his 'choker whites'. And we appreciate much the updates on your adventures.

-Nancy Love

marletteus said...

Thanks Captian Wiley for continuing the blog. My son is on board prividing security. I haven't heard from his lately so at least I feel a little more in tune with your blog.
Thanks again.

RHUELO said...

Captain Bob,
I'm sad because I know you're now leaving for Nha Trang, Vietnam, Staying 2-3 days in Manila is too short. You didn't see and enjoy those beautiful places in the city.There really are lots of nice views to visit but I think you lack time, how i wish i can tour & guide you there but Anyway, just enjoy yourself and take a rest while travelling to Vietnam, i'm sure there's a lot of patients also waiting for you there who needs your care and attention.
Captain, I know maybe I will never see again the friends that i've met in Ward 1 but the care, smile and extra attention they gave me through all the days that i was on your ship will be remembered and will always remain in my heart.
Farewell to you and God bless you always.....
Mabuhay ang USNS MERCY T-AH 19!

Rhuelo D. Aradanas
Sultan Kudarat, Philippines

seabee's mom said...

Captain Bob,
I too would like to thank you for your blog. Our son is a seabee on the USNS Mercy and we don't hear from him as often as when he was at San Diego.
C Wright

John said...

Captain Bob

Please pass onto your crew.

Consider your self and crew lucky as Typhoon Frank passed through the areas of Cotabato on up through Samar and Calbayog City a few days ago. Reading the local news in Manila, this storm has killed so far 20 in the Cotabato areas and many still missing.

As for Samar, it is still too early to tell how bad that area got hit. Tex messages from my wifes family said they are OK both in Tacloban City and Sto Nino island near Calbayog City.

Reports say power is out in many areas now for over two days.

I hope all the people you helped and new friends made are all ok.


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