Archive | September, 2014

USS Boxer Cleans up Ocean Beach

5 Sep

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Briana C. Taylor

SAN DIEGO (July 26, 2014) – He lifts up the front of his shirt with a gloved hand to wipe the sweat off his forehead. It’s hot. Everyone else is sweating too. It was cloudy and cool in the morning, but the sun burned the marine layer away just before he and the rest of the volunteers picked up their shovels.
Logistics Specialist 3rd Class Thomas Rios is no stranger to hard work as a member of the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) Aviation Supply division.
Rios was an active community service volunteer before the Navy. He said this first community relations project since the start of his enlistment is especially rewarding.
“Worth it,” he said, gripping the handle of the shovel.
Sailors assigned to Boxer worked with volunteers from HandsOn San Diego, and the San Diego River Park Foundation to improve the landscape and home of indigenous vegetation in Ocean Beach, California.
“They showed up with their A game today,” said Aviation Ordnanceman Christopher Flores, Ordnance Informational System Administrator and Volunteer Coordinator for Boxer.
“I don’t think Volunteer Coordinator is an official job title,” said Flores, “but that’s what some people have been referring to me as.”
Flores was the Sailor who found the project, run by the San Diego River Park Foundation, using Volunteer Match to find opportunities for himself and his shipmates. This is his first community relations project (COMREL) while on Boxer.
“I was the volunteer coordinator at my last command,” he said. “The feeling went away, and I missed it. Now that we’re in port, I want to represent Boxer and get everyone involved.”
Participating Sailors arrived in Ocean Beach Saturday, July 26 at 9 a.m., and were greeted with smiles. Their hosts took them on a walking tour of the wetlands nature preserve. Sailors trudged through the sand, and were introduced to local flora and the San Diego river system.
“I didn’t even know San Diego had a river,” said Flores.

The area is a habitat for endangered birds, fish, mammals and plants, according to the San Diego River Park Foundation. More than 95 percent of those types of habitats no longer exist in California.
“I feel like I have a responsibility to help out since I’m here in San Diego,” said Rios. “You can’t just enjoy the weather. This is a beautiful land.”
Rios said he was pleased by how easy it is to be a volunteer in the Navy. He feels like he could ask any Sailor for volunteer opportunities and the information would be readily available.
“I feel like volunteerism is a part of our Naval Heritage,” said Flores. “I just want to be that face and that voice; to represent Boxer and get everyone involved.”
Boxer Sailors and other volunteers used mulch to make the public properties along the trail more visually appealing.
Flores said that the representatives from the San Diego River Park Foundation were impressed and pleased by the speed and enthusiasm Boxer Sailors had throughout the morning.
“I have to thank the chain of command,” said Flores. “That’s why we’re here today.”
Boxer Sailors were not alone. Multiple organizations participated that morning in the overall cleanup effort. Sailors worked alongside veterans and children.
“It’s not just a Naval thing,” said Rios. “It’s a whole California thing.”
Volunteer Match is a web-based organization that connects volunteers to over 90,000 nonprofits worldwide.
The San Diego River Park Foundation is a community-based nonprofit dedicated to improving the San Diego River system and preserving its native animal and plant life.

Thank God it’s Wednesday!

5 Sep

Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Robert R. Sanchez, USS
Boxer Public Affairs.
SAN DIEGO- It’s an early Wednesday morning, and a Sailor wipes a drip of
sweat from his forehead, as he finishes up maintenance on the amphibious
assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4). His standard issued hard hat helps
protect him from anything that might fall on his head, but it’s not
helping with the heat of the San Diego summer. He works diligently
ensuring that he still has time to go clean the spaces he is responsible
for before he hears every Sailor’s favorite words: liberty call.
The words sound even better when called four and a half hours earlier
than normal.
Capt. Wayne Brown, Boxer’s commanding officer, has made a deal with his
crew. If the crew is caught up on all work, maintenance, and keeps the
ship’s cleanliness up to standards, then on Wednesday he will allow the
crew to enjoy a half day to take care of personal business.
Brown brings an old Navy tradition, originally known as Rope Yarn
Sunday, to Boxer.
“Rope Yarn is a tradition that the Navy has where the commanding officer
can give time off,” said Senior Chief Navy Counselor Mark Rush, from
Louisville, Ky. “It started during the times when Navy ships used sails.
The Sailors would break out rope yarn to mend their clothes and
hammocks.”
Sailors would get the yarn they had to make ropes while underway. Short
on resources, they used it as thread to mend clothes and hammocks, added
Rush.
The tradition was a break from usual chores at sea, and was nicknamed
“Rope Yarn Sunday.” After sailing ships were no longer used by the Navy,
Rope Yarn Wednesday became free afternoons Sailors would use to attend
to personal errands.
“I didn’t even know what Rope Yarn was until the Captain announced it,”
said Operations Specialist Seaman Dino Rodriguez, from Fresno, Calif. “I
was glad to find out we were getting off work early because it meant
more time to get everything done so I’ll have more free time on the
weekends to play with my son and help out my wife.”
Boxer Sailors must continue to work hard and keep up expectations in
order to continue to enjoy this privilege.
“I would advise the crew to make sure their work is done and spaces are
clean,” said Rush. “The ship’s cleanliness is a big thing. If the
commanding officer knows that our ship is clean and squared away, it
will be more likely that we can continue to enjoy Rope Yarn.”