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Cobra Gold 2011 Marines, sailors provide help to local Thai community

By Lance Cpl. Miranda Blackburn | | February 12, 2011

Marines and sailors participating in Exercise Cobra Gold 2011 visited Thamrapakorn Home for the Aged Feb. 12, 2011, as part of a community relations project through the chaplains office.

Approximately 20 Marines and sailors went to Thamrapakorn Home for the Aged for the tenth community relations project of Cobra Gold 2011.

Cobra Gold is a regularly scheduled joint multinational exercise in the continuing series of U.S.-Thai military exercises designed to ensure regional peace.

Thamrapakorn Home for the Aged has been home to elderly people throughout Thailand for almost 50 years. The program now provides shelter, food and medical treatment to more than 100 residents at no cost.

"The program is funded by the government for people over 60 years old," said Bunleaim Tuewsuantnung, the program director. "They have no one to look after them, and the government sees that elderly people need support."

Marines and sailors talked, sang and danced with the elderly men and women.

Many of the service members also laid hands on individual residents who asked for prayer.

To show their support to the Thamrapakorn Home for the Aged, the chaplains office donated numerous boxes of men and womens clothing, shoes, houseware hygiene products. 

"It was a great experience," said Lance Cpl. Stephen Marts, a refrigeration mechanic with Marine Air Control Squadron 4, Marine Air Control Group 18, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force. "It's good to see that even in other countries, people are still willing to help those in need." 

After serving lunch to residents, Marines and sailors refurbished some of the physical therapy equipment and did grounds maintenance to liven up the appearance of the Thamrapakorn Home for the Aged.

"We really appreciate what the Marines and sailors are doing," said Tuewsuantnung. "Just coming here to pray and spend time with them was more than enough."

Chief Petty Officer Amalia Rodriguez, a religious program specialist for Marine Aircraft Group 12, 1st MAW, told the Marines and sailors, "It might not mean a lot to you, but it means a whole lot to them. In the future, we're going to be in their shoes, and I would really appreciate it if some Marine or sailor did the same for me."

For more infomration about Cobra Gold 2011, visit www.marines.mil/cobragold2011 or www.facebook.com/exercisecobragold.

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