San Diego sailors fight big problem on small body of water

SAN DIEGO – The crew of the USS Bonhomme Richard is used to fighting problems in the Pacific, but Wednesday they tackled issues on a much smaller body of water here in San Diego.

The Navy dubbed the day of events "13/13 Day," representing the ship's 13 departments doing 13 different events around the county. More than 1,100 sailors participated in the event to share their pride in serving on the USS Bonhomme Richard, which arrived in San Diego after spending six years based in Sasebo, Japan, and build a rapport with county residents.

“We are so excited to have all these hard working military members come out and help us out,” said Jennifer Frey with San Diego River Foundation, an organization that helps to clean the habitat around the river.

Ensign Caleb Smith and about 70 members of his crew worked to haul hundreds of bags of trash from the San Diego River. He said the sailors enjoyed the chance to get outside and lend a hand.

“This is the engineering department -- guys who normally don’t see sunlight-- so they are having a good time,” he  laughed.

Hundreds of sailors from the same ship helped out elsewhere around town too. Six of the ship's departments held beach cleanup events at Silver Strand, Mission Beach, Presidio Park, Pacific Beach, Coronado Beach and La Jolla Cove. Several departments helped clean up Balboa Park and the Chula Vista Veterans Home. Two departments were volunteering with Meals on Wheels and the Boys and Girls Club.

“I think in today’s Navy, we are working to be more well-rounded,” Smith said. “We definitely want to be technically proficient and war fighters, but a big part outside of that is getting along with tax payers.”

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