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26th MEU, USS New York support the Muscular Dystrophy Association in Athens

June 11, 2018 at 1:19 PM UTC
Cpl. Juan A. Soto-Delgado

Marines and Sailors assigned to the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS New York (LPD 21) and the embarked 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) visited the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) in Athens, Greece, to help renovate and revitalize its facilities June 7, 2018.

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The visit to Athens was part of a scheduled seven-day port visit to Piraeus where the New York and embarked forces were able to explore, enjoy, and learn more about the host nation and stretch their legs from their time at sea.

“Community relations are an opportunity for us to strengthen partnership with our allies,” said Lt. Matthew Schilling, a chaplain assigned to Combat Logistics Battalion 26, 26th MEU. “It’s incredible to reinforce a positive relationship. There was a language barrier but we managed to work together. It’s amazing to be a part of something bigger than yourself.”

The MDA is a non-profit organization dedicated to combating muscular dystrophy by funding research, providing medical care, community services and educating the general public. The U.S. Navy often takes time to give back to communities it visits to strengthen relationships with NATO allies and to help promote the U.S. Navy’s global service.

 “I volunteered for this, I figured it would be a new experience,” said Cpl. Omar Flores Mendoza, a data Marine with the 26th MEU. “When we are deployed all we think about is being ready 24/7 for months, it can be exhausting. The community [event] was a good opportunity for a mental break and help out an organization that focuses on helping others.”

The Marines and Sailors assisted with painting and making minor repairs to the walls.

“A new layer of paint goes a long way. When we first started the walls were in a desperate need of paint,” Flores said. “We started by plastering the small holes and cracks along the walls, then we waited until it dried then we sanded and prepared to paint. Once we finished, we saw an extreme difference.”

Marines and Sailors aboard the New York will continue to operate in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations providing a forward naval presence supporting maritime security operations, crisis response and theater security cooperation in European, African, and Middle Eastern theaters.

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