PHUKET, Thailand --
Marines and sailors with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit and sailors serving aboard USS New Orleans visited school children, played soccer, and took the students on a tour of the ship May 17.
Mark Goodman of HeadStart International School, whose students represent more than 36 nationalities, said it was the first time many of the children had met members of the military.
“It was a good cultural exchange,” said Navy Lt. Paul Armstrong, USS New Orleans chaplain. “It benefited the children who are in a phase where they’re deciding what they want to do with their lives, and it benefited the service members (influencing) the next generation on the other side of the world.”
The unit embarked USS Makin Island, USS New Orleans and USS Pearl Harbor in San Diego Nov. 14, beginning a seven-month deployment to the Western Pacific, Horn of Africa and Middle East regions.
"I liked spending time with the kids," said Cpl. Brett Surles, a 21-year-old combat engineer and Cantonment, Fla., native serving Battalion Landing Team 3/1. "I like donating my time for these projects because it lets me experience the culture and it helps remind me that I am a part of something bigger.”