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Vella Gulf and Donald Cook Sailors Volunteer on Holocaust Remembrance Day in Haifa

May 2, 2014 at 9:07 AM UTC

Lt. Brandon Hood, USS Vella Gulf Public Affairs

HAIFA, Israel - Sailors assigned to the guided-missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf (CG 72) and the guided missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) volunteered to help Holocaust survivors while in port, April 30.

The Sailors participated in a community relations project at Helping Hand to a Friend, a center that serves Holocaust survivors. The center serves 85 survivors from throughout the world who now reside in Haifa.

Lt. Brandon Hood, USS Vella Gulf Public Affairs

HAIFA, Israel - Sailors assigned to the guided-missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf (CG 72) and the guided missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) volunteered to help Holocaust survivors while in port, April 30.

The Sailors participated in a community relations project at Helping Hand to a Friend, a center that serves Holocaust survivors. The center serves 85 survivors from throughout the world who now reside in Haifa.

Israel solemnly commemorated Holocaust Remembrance Day, a national holiday, in which the country remembers the over six-million European Jews killed from 1933-1945 by Nazi Germany during the Second World War, April 27-28.

Sailors moved furniture and building supplies and cleared scrap material from the charity's rooms in preparation for construction projects. Helping Hand to a Friend, in addition to housing Holocaust survivors, also feeds the needy and provides after-school mentoring programs to children in Haifa.

"It meant so much to help and to learn first-hand the history of people who lived through the Holocaust," said Operations Specialist 3rd Class Ryan MacDonald.

"I learned so much about the Holocaust through the life experiences of these Holocaust survivors,"Â said Logistics Specialist Seaman Mohammad Khalil, another volunteer. "This was a truly memorable experience."

Other Sailors agreed that this was both a memorable and inspiring experience.

"The Holocaust survivors have touched me and transformed me," said Culinary Specialist Seaman Gabriel Hartman. "Their will to survive, their faith, their strength was inspiring."

Vella Gulf and Donald Cook are on scheduled deployments supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations.

U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts a full range of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation missions in concert with coalition, joint, interagency, and other partners in order to advance security and stability in Europe and Africa.

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