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Pacific Partnership 2013 Concludes First Mission Port of Samoa

10 June 2013

From Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Samantha Webb

The Samoa phase of Pacific Partnership came to a close June 8 during a ceremony to celebrate the mission, its accomplishments and the relationships developed over the past week.

APIA, Samoa - Pacific Partnership personnel and distinguished Samoan guests attended a closing ceremony for Pacific Partnership's mission in Samoa, June 8.

The ceremony was held on the pier next to the amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52), the mission platform this year, and included guest speakers from the U.S. Embassy in Samoa, the Samoan Ministry of Education, and Pacific Partnership mission leadership, while a more casual gathering afterwards featured traditional Samoan dance from the Don Bosco Technical College.

"The Samoan phase of Pacific Partnership 2013 was standard-setting," said Capt. Wallace Lovely, Pacific Partnership 2013 mission commander, in his address to the group. "The intense efforts in delivering goods and skills ashore were remarkable."

Pacific Partnership personnel consisting of U.S. armed forces, partner nation military forces and non-governmental organizations conducted various projects throughout Samoa over the past seven days including multiple community service projects totaling more than 1,600 man-hours.

Mission personnel held more than 60 medical and dental engagements, provided veterinary services at 12 sites, and performed five engineering missions and four underwater harbor surveys while in Samoa.

"It's good to get a lot of people involved with missions like this, not only just one country," said Mr. Lapana M. To'a, a Samoan and U.S. Navy Veteran attending the event. "It makes the relationship better for each country to work together."

U.S. Marine Cpl. Seth Eckel spent the week installing water filtration systems in communities throughout Samoa. He said the people he helped were grateful for the assistance.

"When we were finished everybody was thanking us and giving us gifts," said Eckel. "All of us wanted to do more, but it's also good because we're going to other countries and doing the same thing."

Pacific Partnership is the largest disaster response-preparation mission in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. Partners that include Australia, Canada, Colombia, France, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the United States are working together through the mission to strengthen regional relationships and foster a team approach to crisis and disaster response-preparedness.

The USS Pearl Harbor travels next to Tonga. Host nations for this year's mission also include Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Marshall Islands and Papua New Guinea.

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