Sunday, September 28, 2008

...and home!

Dear Family and Friends,

We arrived back in San Diego last Thursday to a wonderful homecoming. Our mission is complete (Whew!). I guess it is time to close out this Blog with one final entry. Over the last week or so, I have been struggling with just how to put down in writing what all this has meant to me. I know for myself, and most everyone who served aboard Mercy, this mission will serve as the benchmark for my career.

What we have done:

It is very hard to quantify how you measure the success of a mission like this – because it’s not simply about numbers. First and foremost, this mission was about diplomacy. It was about building relationships with the people who we share this immense span of ocean we call the Pacific. As a mariner, I have spent most of the last 32 years sailing these waters. I have come to know these people as if they were regular neighbors. And I know it’s the relationships between neighbors that will build the foundation for a good neighborhood.

It used to be said America was protected from the world’s ills and troubles by the vastness of two oceans. This is no longer the case. With today’s modern transportation and communication systems, the oceans no longer separate from the rest of the world – if anything they join us together! The places that used to be "way over there" are getting closer to us every day. The neighborhood is shrinking - and like all good neighbors we must trust and depend on each other.

So it’s not about the numbers… On the other hand, everyone seems to like numbers so here are just a few of our final numbers for Pacific Partnership 2008:

Total patients seen: 90,693 (Whoa!)
Surgeries performed: 1,370
Bio-Med repair: $2,965,719 worth of equipment put back into service.
Preventive Medicine: 2,090 hours – Effected population (Est.): 48,500
Veterinary Services: 6,665 Animals Treated.
Training & Subject Matter Expert Exchange: 4,352 Students - 7,703 Contact Hours

I owe so very much to a lot of people who helped make this Blog the success it was. I can’t possibly begin to thank them all - but here are just a few: I first need to thank Captain Scott Gureck who is the public affairs officer for Commander, Pacific Fleet. Scott was a classmate of mine at the Naval War College and it was he who originally dreamed up the idea of my writing a Blog for this voyage. It took a great deal of effort to talk me into to it as well. Scott also used the authority of his office to give me a great deal of top-cover to write whatever it was I felt like writing. I was never pressured by anyone to make changes or to "edit" content. My words in this Blog are mine and mine alone. Another public affairs officer I need to thank is my good friend Rosemary Heiss from the MSC office in Washington DC. Rosie provided me the technical assistance and the "how to" expertise necessary in getting this Blog posted.

It goes without saying that I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my wonderful shipmates here aboard Mercy. It is still amazing to think that such a hodge-podge of professionals – from CIVMARs to Military; from NGOs to our partner nation friends; from college students to all the rest – and each and every one of them having the same vision of what this mission could and should be.

And last but not least, I wish to thank all of you, dear readers, for taking the time to click on to this journal over the last few months. I was so lucky to have been able to be a part of all this. It has been such a privilege to be able to take a ship built for war, and to use it for such a tremendous instrument of peace. My most heartfelt thanks for allowing me to share with you this magnificent adventure.

Warmest regards…



Thomas Houseman said...

It's been great reading of all your adventures and I'm still a bit amazed the giant US Navy authorised / paid for it all. I believe missions like this do a lot to counter all the negative press the US armed forces get over Iraq/Afghanistan etc.

Keep up the good work and may there be many more "Mercy" missions in the future!

Navy Mom said...

Captain Wiley,

thank you for taking the time to write this blog, keeping us informed over the month. I really enjoyed the 7 days on the Mercy as a "Tiger", learning to know your operation and routine on a daily basis. The drills and activities were serious and very interesting and the presentations very informative.
There is so much involved to operate a ship like the Mercy, much more than anyone can imagine.
I wish you the best of luck for the future and hope that all of the planned humanitarian missions will be as successful as this one was. You all had a tremendous workload to deal with and did an extraordinary job, kudos to you all. You will be remembered and kept in the hearts of many, many people.
Thanks you for all you did. Enjoy time on land with family and friends and take care of yourself.

Renate Di-Do :):):)

PNWShawn said...

Captain Bob,

Thanks for an amazing adventure and also for keeping the world informed with you blog. I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed this deployment - I'm sad to see it end. We touched so many people's lives, and I made so many friends along the way. It really was the chance of a lifetime. Thanks for letting me be a guest blogger, too.
-ISC Shawn Cohen

historyguy99 said...

Thanks for making all Americans proud of the men and women who choose to serve.

Smooth sailing and fair seas.

Galrahn said...

Captain Bob,

Welcome home. Thank you very much for allowing us to take this journey with you on the blog. It has been a pleasure to read your musings on this journey, and following the good work that was done by the men and women of the Mercy.

Good luck and I look forward to future adventures.

Very Repectfully,


Anonymous said...

dear cap wiley it is great to see this bloog i was on the 2006 deployment and it was one of the most fullfilling deployments i have ever been on and am sorry that i missed this one. this is a great bloog and brings me back to my cruse and of great memorys
hope to be on the next deployment with you and the mercy
thank you
HM3 Ferrill

Rhi said...

Captain Wiley,

I have a rather odd request. I am so interested in traveling and finding out about different places all over the world. Would you be willing to send me some pictures from around the world that I could post on my blog? Complete credit would be given to you. Any pictures or comments would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much for your blog!

Michael said...

I was in Chuuk and got to visit the USNS Mercy! I was so highly impressed with our country's Navy and its humanitarian work in the form of the USNS Mercy! I was lucky to be able to get a tour of the ship and then some extra time afterwards apart from the tour group I joined, to see more of the ship. I enjoyed the tour by a sailor down to the enlisted quarters! So cramped down there! It gives me an even greater appreciation for what you all do out there! I got to go up and see the Mess Hall, the two seperate mess areas, the Officer's area and the Enlisted! What a difference! I got to get a drink from your $0.25 drink machines too. It was really an incredible experience! I even got to meet your Commanding Officer, Capt. Rice in the corridor during part of my "after" tour!

Thank you all so much for what you are doing for your country.

Silver said...

Capt. Wiley,

I'm with the magazine Asia-Pacific Defense Forum, and I'm interested in doing a piece (possibly collaborative?) on your mission with the Mercy, or you could even write one for the magazine yourself, if you're so inclined ... Hopefully you're still checking the comments on this blog. ;) Please get in touch with me at if you're interested -- I'd love to work with you on this! Thanks a bunch!