Sunday, December 02, 2007

USS Germantown Kicks Ass!

USS GermantownSaipan was recently visited by about 300 Sailors and 400 Marines aboard the USS Germantown. The ship arrived on Wednesday and left our island on Sunday morning.

They dumped a whole lot of money into our economy. Thanks, boys!

I had a chance to meet some of them at a Beautify CNMI cleanup of the Garapan Tourist District on Friday and during a tour of the ship on Saturday morning.

I was approached by Christine Parke, the Executive Director of the Saipan Chamber of Commerce, to see if I would be interested in helping to coordinate a Beautify CNMI cleanup with some of the guys from the ship.

We bounced a couple of ideas of each other and finally decided that a cleanup in Garapan would be our best bet. It was close to the ship and we could invite some students from Garapan Elementary to participate, too.

Marines and Sailors on SaipanWe ended up recruiting about 80 Marines and Sailors and about 60 or so students and teachers. We also had help from several other organizations and individuals. MVA, PDM Promoters, Isa CNMI, and MINA all had volunteers show up. Herman's bakery donated cookies. I used some of the Beautify CNMI money to buy water. Even Cinta Kaipat stopped in on her way to a session to thank the kids for their participation.

After two hours we had filled four pickup trucks with garbage.

Go us!

Commander Steve Vincent, the commanding officer of the USS Germantown, provided all of the volunteers with lunch from the ship. He brought hot dogs, hamburgers, and chicken. He also gave all of the kids USS Germantown pins.

I was lucky enough to receive a USS Germantown hat.

After the cleanup, the Commander invited all of the volunteers to tour the ship the next morning.

Angelo and EJYou better believe I was there. I brought EJ with me.

USS GermantownUSS GermantownIt's clobberin' time: The hull of the USS Germantown carries two big hover crafts and a bunch of landing vehicles. These pictures are probably classified. I hope I don't get a phonecall from Homeland Security.

The ship was one of the bigger ships Saipan has seen and this was my first time touring an active Navy ship. I know my brother, Kevin, would have been jealous.

I didn't take nearly as many pictures as Bruce, but I took a few.

Suck my Gatling gun: The USS Germantown is equipped with two 20mm Phalanx CIWS anti-missile Gatling guns. This baby fires 75 rounds per second. I gotta get me one of those.

We were taken to see where the Sailors and Marines go when they are sick, where they eat, where the control center for the ship is located, to the bridge, and up on the top deck to see some of the guns.

Cool stuff, all of it.

Winchells Donuts SaipanMmmmm...Donuts: I'm sure Winchell's was happy to hear that Sailors and Marines like donuts.


One of the Sailors participating in the cleanup went to Garapan Elementary School about 13 years ago. He lived on Saipan for a few years, but left when his family left. He now lives in San Diego.

It's been a few years: USS Germantown Sailor Marvin Mascardo with GES Principal Boni Gomez. Boni was a teacher when Marvin was a student at GES in 1994.

Welcome back to Saipan, Marvin!


Commander Steve Vincent USS GermantownThe Big Guy: That's me with Christine Parke and Commander Vincent.

Commander Steven Vincent, the Commanding Officer for the USS Germantown told Captain Carl and me one of the best military stories I've ever heard. I apologize in advance for screwing up the details and for not being as eloquent as he.

During World War II, Commander Vincent's father earned a Silver Star fighting in Europe. His father never told him how he won the medal, telling his son that they handed one out to everyone just for showing up during the war.

To make a long story short, in his search for how his father earned the medal, he met his father's best friend from the war. Commander Vincent invited his father's friend to the USS Germantown. During his visit, he explained the meaning of the ship's crest, which has a castle from the German town of Krefeld, where the original settlers of Germantown, PA emigrated from.

Turns out that the Commander's father and father's best friend took that castle during WWII.

Now Commander Vincent is the Commanding Officer of the US Navy ship that bears that castle as her crest.

How cool is that?

Here I am holding Commander Vincent's coffee cup:

Navy Coffee CupMaybe some of that charisma will rub off on me.


Bruce A. Bateman said...

I posted a few over on my site too, Angelo.

That was an educational tour. Fun too. I really enjoy going on board ships, any and all. I could see that you enjoyed it too.

was that 3 - 2s?

bigsoxfan said...

You are moving back to the top rankings, Angelo. Let's round up; Bruce's name, awesome pic of EJ (she's just so cute), Pic of Mrs. Gomez with a returning student. Let the other's troll for G. Cruz. Oh! and cool references to automatic cannons.

TexasPhil said...

Strange (or maybe not so strange) how similar the saipan problems are like Texas. Illegal aliens/cheap labor/etc.

Awesome pics of the Germantown.

I am addicted to Saipan blogging. I crack up daily at you guys. When I make it to Saipan, I'll make BBQ for everybody.

Texas Phil

The Saipan Blogger アンジェロ・ビラゴメズ said...

BBQ? We love BBQ out here.

Our problem isn't so much illegal aliens, although they do exist here, our controversy has to do with whether or not "we" support giving legal aliens a path towards either US citizenship, Permanent Resident status, or some type of other status that would allow them to either stay in the Marianas indefinitely, or move to Guam, Hawaii, or the US Mainland.

Issues similar to this are being played out throughout the world because of new social migration patterns. It's not just Texas and Saipan.

Perhaps Tom Delay was correct when he called us a "petri dish of capitalism." His assumption, of course, was that Capitalism is good. I'm just assuming that Capitalism is Capitalism.

Boni said...

Marvin Mascardo. I was a teacher aide when he was a 5th grader in 1993. Wow, I'm old-er.

TexasPhil said...

I know what you mean about pathway to citizenship/resident alien.

From reading blogs, seems that your problems are very different from ours after all. The illegal aliens in texas cost us billions in health care (which is provided free) also, they can get drivers licenses and social security checks. I don't really understand why it is set up this way. It makes no sense to me.

Seems that Saipan has a much easier time documenting who is there (probably because you are an island and nobody can just walk over).

The US territories are unique places with their own rules. I would like to see CNMI become a state. But that is a view from the mainland. I've seen some bloggers saying they wished for statehood. I've read about possible economic advantages, etc.

You seem to know a lot about the political problems in Saipan, and you have good ideas for solving them.

Why aren't you running for office?
You can't get wet on the bank my friend.
(gotta jump in)

Texas Phil

TexasPhil said...

I forgot to add that I could teach you how to make tamales.

and also... is it really true that only 3 roads out there have names? Sounded like blogger bs... trying to wade through it all.

Texas Phil

The Saipan Blogger アンジェロ・ビラゴメズ said...

Once upon a time only 3 roads had names, Beach Road, Middle Road, and Back Road.

Pretty descriptive, huh?

A few years back one of the Mayors named all the roads on Saipan. They split the island up into sections and then named the streets in each section according to some theme. The themes are things like fruits, trees, other islands, animals, etc.

My father's street is Kamyo Road. A kamyo is a stool that has a grater bolted onto it. It is used to grate coconut out of the shell.

Long before the streets were named, my father told me once that he didn't like that name. He said that calling someone Kamyo was like calling them a dunce.

I don't speak Chamorro, but I would greatly appreciate if someone could confirm that iota of culture for me.

And oh yeah, we make tamales here. We were colonized by the Spanish, too, you know?

As for the running for office thing, I don't ever want to be a member of the local House or Senate.

Not my cup of tea.