USS Carr Visit Strengthens Friendship With Cape Verde

American Forces Press Service

ABOARD USS CARR, March 15, 2006  - For the second time in as many months, sailors aboard guided-missile frigate USS Carr and embarked crew of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 44 visited the island nation of Cape Verde, off the coast of West Africa, March 8-10.

During a visit to the island of St. Vicente, sailors had the opportunity to establish friendships in the town of Salamansa when they joined Cape Verde soldiers to contribute time to two community relations projects.

"This is a great opportunity for us to give back to this wonderful country that has welcomed us with open arms," Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad Keiffer said.

Thirty-one Carr sailors and 10 Cape Verde soldiers spread their goodwill by volunteering at the Escola de Salamansa, an elementary school, March 8. Navy Chief Petty Officer John Garrett set up both projects at the school.

"I enjoyed coordinating in this project, and I'm very thankful that I was given this opportunity," he said. "I've done lots of volunteer projects in the past, most at homeport, but my time in Salamansa has been the most fulfilling and rewarding period of my career.

"Even though we were in a foreign country and they knew very little English, there were other ways for us to communicate with each other," he added.

During the first project, the exterior of the school was painted after members of both militaries prepared the walls by chipping away the old paint and filling in holes. At the second project, classroom walls were painted while Carr sailors repaired the school's soccer field nets, and others picked up trash and broken glass on the field.

"We're happy to be here, happy to help and happy to make new friends," Navy Lt. j.g. Sarah Bedard, from Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 44, said.

The school's principal, Maghi Reies, and her staff prepared a local Portuguese dish of rice, beans and pork for the sailors. "This is just a small token to show our appreciation," Reies said. "We are all very happy to have both militaries here working side by side with our soldiers on this project. The students here are having a great time with the sailors."

The projects were a way for visiting sailors to give something back to the Cape Verde community as they continue a U.S. 6th Fleet commitment to strengthen partnerships with West African nations, U.S. officials said. Carr is on a scheduled six-month deployment and is currently operating with the submarine tender USS Emory S. Land in the waters off West Africa to support U.S. European Command theater security cooperation and develop emerging partners in promoting regional stability.

(From a U.S. Naval Forces Europe news release.)

Related Sites:

USS Carr []

State Department Background Notes on Cape Verde []

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