By Lt. j.g. William Lindahl
Pacific Partnership 2015 Advanced Party Engineer
We’ve been in Kiribati 10 days now, and have made serious progress preparing for the arrival of our Joint High Speed Vessel, the USNS Millinocket. Cruising in with tons of equipment and manpower, I’m confident Pacific Partnership 2015 will make a huge difference improving countless lives across the Pacific theater!
When I first arrived in Kiribati, I was blown away by the heat. Not just from the weather, which is very, very warm, but by the warmth of personality from those around me. I’ve never felt so welcome as a foreigner as I have on this tiny island. Now granted, I’ve been a member of the U.S. Navy for around three years with no deployments, but my wife and I have done our fair share of traveling, and are currently stationed in Japan, also well known for their hospitality. As deployments go, I’d say I’m fortunate to have this as my first. Not only does it prepare my wife and I for longer, more arduous deployments, but I get to work with other branches of the military, as well as partner nations, and host nation organizations; all with the goal of bettering the lives of the people in Kiribati.
There are many moving parts to the mission here, but my focus as the lead engineering planner is on the 12 motivated, U.S. Navy Seabees onboard. There are about 1,400 students at two schools waiting for their arrival. Their facilities are in dire need of repair, but just today we delivered four PACKED shipping containers full of construction materials! I began to feel that island warmth inside, as an entire school of children gathered around to see what awaited within. When the containers were opened, the crowd looked in awe. As did I… We’ve got a lot of work to do! It will be a tight schedule with only two weeks for construction, but the Seabees are known for their CAN DO attitude and resourcefulness, and I know we have it in us!
It’s truly an honor to facilitate a comfortable learning environment for the children of Kiribati! This is the first of many stops on this mission, and the bar is ours to set. Aiming for the sky!