Thursday, June 5, 2008

Who We Are

Dear Family & Friends,

I am not a professional writer; however, I spent most of last night having what professional writers call “Terror of the Blank Page.” I knew I needed to write something…anything… But what? It was as though the “writing lobe” of my brain went ashore for a couple of beers and left me here on the ship to fend for myself. Come on, Mr. Lobe, it’s time to go to work! Today at lunch I realized the answer was sitting all around me. Aboard this vessel we have so many different people from so many different organizations. There are Civilian Mariners (like myself), Helicopter Pilots, Doctors, Nurses, Seabees, and Veterinarians. We have professionals aboard from partner nations - Australia, Canada, Japan, and the Philippines. So far, this Blog has mostly focused on what we have been doing. Perhaps, dear readers, you would like to know a little about who we are.

Therefore, I think I’ll slightly alter this Blog’s course from time-to-time. I will continue to write about the places we go and the people whose lives we touch. However, every now and then, I will also post the intermittent scrivening to be called: Who We Are. In these posts I hope to highlight the many different people, from many different organizations and professions, which make a humanitarian mission aboard a hospital ship possible. Provided, of course, Mr. Lobe cooperates.

It is day 5 here in Cotabato. Our missions ashore continue with a whole lot of people being seen by our medical providers. Here aboard Mercy, the surgeons are doing some really interesting cases. The crew is getting its rhythm and the missions are running smoother every day.

My thanks to all of you who have left comments to my postings on this Blog. All of them have been very kind and I really do appreciate it!

More to come…



LUnrein22 said...

Captain Bob, I'm loving your blog, even more than your emails from your last trip out there (if that is at all possible, because I really enjoyed those too!) Makes me extremely proud to have gone to high school with you! Keep up the great work! LeeAnne

Susan said...

As the mother of one of the Seabee's that was priviledged to have been asked to join this mission, there are no words I can express in regards to how touched and how proud I am. You are all amazing!!!!

kel1guy said...

cyHello from Leyte, Philippines Captain. I am a retired AVCM living here since 2002. You and the Mercy crew have once again revived that sometimes missing here at home "Pride and Professionalism" we being representatives of the Navy greatly appreciate. Having served 27.5 plus years myself I know that at times it seems no one cares that your "Out there somewhere."

Your visits to Samar are more important than you and your crew members may realize. There are many local citizens there that do not support Freedom and Democracy as we know it. Your visits in and around Samar are making a difference.

A tip of "The Hat" to you and your crew for doing your tasking, and somewhat diplomatic mission quite well. Thank you all so much!

AVCM Brown

I can be reached at and will respond to any Member of your crew that e-mails me with MERCY in the subject line.

John said...

Captain Bob, I make it a daily priority to check this site to keep track of this mission.

As of all the humanitarian medical missions the Navy has done over the years, I am very impressed in the crews. These professionals from all different type of organizations work very long hours to meet the needs of those people they are seeing. There is no time to relax and go on liberty. It's all about caring for those that need medical/dental help. Even transiting to different locations, there is very little time for the crew to relax as they are getting ready for the next location.

This is a rewarding experience for all those on board Mercy. This mission is something each and every person involved will never forget.

Please pass onto the Det. from Fleet Combat Camera Pacific, San Diego a "BZ" for the pictures they are providing.


dawnie said...

Captain Bob, My brother is on the Mercy, I won't say his name because he is your JAG officer, and you know those lawyer types. LOL Your blogs are awesome. I feel like I am traveling with you along the way. Thank all your troops for their hard work. Please tell my brother "HI" for me.


jquall said...

I am the mom of one of the active duty Navy nurses aboard the Mercy.
She was born in the Navy hospital on Guam--we were at Andersen AFB. Also, her grandfather was a Seabee in the Pacific in WWII. She is retracing the family history on this great humanitarian mission. I am sharing your blog and pictures with family and friends. We're proud of her!
Thank you for keeping us posted--jlr

Pat, Pam, & Sean said...

Hey Capt. Bob!
Don't let Mr. Lobe get the best of
You. Keep up the good work.
Your friend, Pat Yancey

Anonymous said...

Greetings Captain Bob!
I am the mother of a DEPer (sp?). My son has signed on to be a corpsman. He was involved with the Sea Cadet program (I was an officer for 5 1/2 years and I was his CO). Like me, KC has a fierce desire to help people. I told him about your ship and he is hoping that it will be one of his tours when he completes his training. I know much of the public focus is on supporting the troops in Iraq. Is there anything your people would like? I am involved in a number of volunteer groups who are more than willing to help support our sailors. What all of you do is great work and as cliche as it may sound, it makes me proud to be an American! Bravo Zulu. Laura McIntosh

John said...

Good day Captain Bob

Just wanted to pass onto you and your crew a link to a site from Calbayog City where there is a Mercy MEDCAP also going on at the same time.

Thank you


PNWShawn said...

I just wanted to share this email I sent out yesterday...

Friends and Family;

Let me take a moment of your time to tell you about my day. A few minutes ago a Marine who works for me asked me if we would get any medals or awards for this deployment, such as the Humanitarian Service Medal. I told him that we would not be eligible for the HSM, but some of us might receive something like a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal or perhaps a Flag Letter of Commendation. Then I told the Sergeant that I had already received something much better than any medal they could give me. I explained how a short time ago I had stopped into the Physical Therapy room for an adjustment since I hurt my neck in a fall yesterday (not serious, getting better thanks for asking.) While I was there I saw a 15-year-old Filipino boy named Romeo. I thought he was younger than that because he is fairly small for his age. I first saw Romeo there yesterday when they wheeled him in on a wheelchair. Romeo was very excited to be in a wheelchair because for the first time in years he was able to move around on his own without having to depend on other people. When Romeo was nine-years-old he was injured in a bomb blast when his village in the Republic of the Philippines was caught up in fighting between rival factions. His legs were so badly burned in the blast that scar tissue prevented him from even straightening his leg. His legs have atrophied so much that they are smaller around than my arms. For the last six years he has been unable to walk, and his father has carried him around. When not carried, he crawls around on his hands. He is totally dependent on family members to take care of him.

As Romeo gets older, he is getting too big for his father to carry around. His father is smaller than I am, and I couldn’t imagine carrying him around all day. When his family heard that our hospital ship, USNS MERCY, was coming to Mindinao they asked if we could help. His case was accepted, and our team of doctors decided to cut away the scar tissue that bound Romeo’s leg like webbing and replace it with a large skin graft taken from his back. His father asked one of our surgeons, Commander Todd, if the boy would ever be able to ride his bicycle again. Dr. Todd said there was a remote chance he may one day be able to ride a bike - and perhaps even stand on his own – although the boy would probably never walk more than a few steps.

Today, a few days after his surgery, I saw Romeo walk on crutches for the first time since the explosion. He was surrounded by family members and his doctors, Commander Todd, Commander Tan, Commander Douglas (his plastic Surgeon), Captain Goldberg (his physical therapist) and a Navy journalist who captured the moment on video. We all watched as he climbed up on the exercise bike and rode like he was competing in the Tour de France! His father and sister watched in amazement with tears streaming down their cheeks. This is a boy who now has a chance to do things on his own. To go to school, work, play with friends, grow up and raise a family. His father shook our hands and hugged us all, then looked into my eyes and said “Salamat Po” (a sincere thank you.) I would have traded all my medals for those two words.

So that was my day. How are you all doing?

Shawn Cohen

John said...

This last post says it all. Here is a story that clearly shows why this mission is so important to those that need help.

Thank you Chief Cohen for sharing your email.


deno kidde said...

i love all the blog comments, reading about all the great things the mercy is doing,and proud to have a daughter, ltjg kidde on board.

Ben & Erica said...

Captain Bob,
Thank you for this blog. I see more now than I ever understood. My husband left to join you on the Mercy. We are expecting our second child in four weeks or less and he will also miss our first born's, second birthday in August. I couldn't think of any better reason for him to miss those experiances. What you are doing over there is undescribable and wonderful. Thank you for helping me understand and feel better about his departure from us. My prayers are with each and every one of you! Erica

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