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ABOARD USS BOXER (LHD 4), San Diego - USS Boxer (LHD 4) USS Boxer (LHD 4) along with various embarked units and non-governmental organizations (NGO) departed Naval Base San Diego April 28 in route to Latin America nations for the Pacific Phase of Continuing Promise (CP) 2008. CP is an equal partnership mission designed to combine partner nation and U.S. relief capabilities to demonstrate the lasting bonds and shared interests among neighbors. Specific locations for the ship’s relief operations include Guatemala, El Salvador and Peru. The deployment is scheduled to last through June.
The Humanitarian Civic Assistance (HCA) mission provides partner nations in the U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) area of focus a mobile, flexible and rapidly responsive medical and engineering capability for a number of missions and training opportunities in Central and South America. This is Boxer’s first deployment since returning from the Western Pacific in May of 2007.The Pacific Phase of CP is one of two HCA deployments planned for the USSOUTHCOM area of focus for 2008. The second CP deployment will be conducted by USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) in the Caribbean. The deployments are modeled in part on last year’s USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) deployment to the region that delivered substantial medical and dental support to a large number of people in remote locations. They carry the capabilities of a well-trained medical staff of more than 30 doctors, nurses and corpsmen. Boxer is well suited for providing an array of medical aid...as well as bring comfort to the frightened or hurting children brought aboard through the "hugs" of over 250 teddy bears from Hugs Across America.
The Pelican Rapids High School band, joined many others at a band contest in Chicago. On the way home, however, the 100 youngsters and HS staff, traveling north in 2 busses, met with disaster on I -94 when one of the buses flipped over on the slippery road. One of the band youngsters died in the accident and many more were seriously injured.
Over 1,000 people from this close nit community in northern Minnesota packed the Pelican Rapids High School gymnasium Monday evening to hold hands, share tears and seek comfort amidst the pain they were feeling following the tragic bus accident. In an effort to comfort grieving classmates, over 100 Hugs Acrross America teddies will be given to the students as they return to school with the help of Police Chief Jeff Stadum and the Pelican Rapids High School guidance department.
This rural western Pennsylvania community is in mourning following a house fire that claimed 10 lives, including a mother, five of her children and three grandchildren. "We know everybody, so it's like losing one of your own," said William Hrinya, mayor of Brockway, a town of about 2,000 people 80 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.
Three generations of Petersons lived together in that home and they were a tight family. The community's small school district of just about 1,000 students has been hard-hit by the tragedy, said Amy Glasl, principal of Brockway Elementary School. Three children in the family attended her school; two of them died. The school Guidance Counselor, Barabara Fortunato, who has herself founded an organization called "H.U.G.S." ( Helping Understand Grief Stages), has requested 60 teddies from Hugs Across America to help the classes deal with their loss as they return to school.
"Will it ever be easier, will the vulnerability go away, will random madness stop"? ... these questions our students want to know. We can not give the answers, but we can give them hugs, and hope and the sure knowledge that they are not alone in their grief. 115 Hugs teddy bears will greet the 100 students who return to an Ocean Geology class in Cole Hall when classes begin after the massacre on Valentine's Day. The Counseling Center feels that the students will find comfort in their hugs.