PEOPLE TO PEOPLE PROGRAMS 1967

HERMITAGE, while deployed as a member of Seventh Fleet's Amphibious Force undertook five community relations projects.

1.  On 26 July 1967, the officers and men of the USS HERMITAGE (replacing battle dress with white uniforms) hosted key village officials, school children and teachers of Thon Don Am village, Republic of South Vietnam.  The visiting officials were the Village Chief, the Voting Registrar, the Chief Administrative Officer, each of these three officials' principal executive assistants, and the Chief of Police.

The 45 children, four teachers and seven officials arrived at HERMITAGE via a WPB.  Upon arrival, each child was provided a "sailor" escort and the visitors went to the flight deck where they were welcomed officially by the Commanding Officer.  This welcome briefly tied U.S. objectives (peace with freedom)_ with those of the South Vietnamese.

Following their welcome they were given a demonstration of well deck operations.  The well deck had been flooded (HERMITAGE was maintaining a boat haven in OPERATION BEACON GUIDE) prior to their arrival and assault craft laying to near by.  First, the stern gate was lowered and a LARC entered the well at maximum speed and drove onto the dry forward portion of the well.  Immediately following the LARC was a LCM-8 with a truck embarked.  The LCM-8 grounded out, the truck drove off, the LCM-8 raised its ramp and debarked, and the sterngate was closed, terminating the demonstration.  This demonstration of well deck operations, was followed by a tour of the ship.  The children then went to the mess decks and were treated to a showing of cartoons.  Popcorn, potato chips, and finger sandwiches, were served during the movie.  Following the movie, the ship's band played while ice cream and cookies were served.

The Village Chief and officials were escorted to the wardroom where refreshments were served.  Command presentation slides were shown and the Commanding Officer gave a brief talk.  This group of officials was then given helicopter rides of the Task Group and their village.

Upon their return, they joined the children in the mess decks for the presentation of gifts.  Each child received soap, pens, pencils, and writing paper.  The presentation to each child was personally made by their enlisted host escort who never left the child's side.  The village officials were visibly moved by this small but sincere act.  Teachers were presented pen and pencil sets and considerable writing materials.  The village chief and officials then returned to the wardroom with the Commanding Officer for the presentation of mementos of the visit and final speeches while the others embarked in the WPB alongside.

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2.  HERMITAGE's second community relations project took place on 27 October and was directed towards the same village.  The RVN Navy Executive Officer and the naval advisors of Coastal Group 13 which is based adjacent to Thon Dong Am came aboard and were given swing sets, seesaws and rubber athletic balls for use by the children of their village.

3.  While in Hong Kong, on 12 November, HERMITAGE hosted 35 children from the Bishop Ford Center.  The children toured the ship, were shown cartoons and were served ice cream.  The director of the center Rev. C. A. Hirst, MM, commented that the children truly enjoyed tours of U.S. Navy ships.  The Rev. Hirst was along given rubber inflatable balls to augment the playground equipment of the center.

4.  On 21 November, children of the Kobo Cottage Orphanage near Yokosuka, Japan, came aboard HERMITAGE and were presented rubber playground balls.  Three teachers, a student, and Captain McCloughlin, senior Catholic Chaplain in Yokosuka came aboard HERMITAGE to accept the gifts.


From scrapbook compiled by Michael Sheehy. Courtesy of C.J. and Julene DeHart.


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