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U.S. Ambassador Thanks Troops for Aid to Philippines

USS GERMANTOWN At Sea, Nov. 29, 2013 - U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of the Philippines Philip S. Goldberg visited sailors and Marines aboard the USS Germantown on Thanksgiving Day as the ship steamed through Leyte Gulf.

Goldberg thanked the service members for their role in assisting the people of the Philippines during Operation Damayan.

Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest typhoons ever, made landfall in the Philippines on Nov. 7. In response to a request for assistance by the government of the Philippines, the Germantown and USS Ashland relieved the George Washington Strike Group of its relief mission Nov. 21.

Goldberg was joined by U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Gen. John E. Wissler, the commander of Joint Task Force 505, Rear Adm. Hugh Wetherald, the commander of Amphibious Forces 7th Fleet, and other distinguished guests.

JTF-505 is overseeing U.S. military-provided relief efforts during Operation Damayan in coordination with the armed forces of the Philippines, other international militaries and nongovernmental organizations.

During his visit, Goldberg was given a tour of the ship, met with sailors and Marines and thanked the crew for their service.

"In my many years of service, I have been honored to work with Marines and sailors, and I've been impressed every time," he said. "You all have done amazing work here, and I'm proud to share Thanksgiving with you."

Wissler also addressed the Marines and sailors about the impact they've had on the people of the Philippines.

"What the Navy and Marine Corps team has done here is help bring peace of mind with your presence in the area," he said. "Our partnership with the government of the Philippines shows we are here with them during a difficult time. I couldn't be more proud of your ability to respond when called."

The Germantown, along with the Ashland, embarked Commander, Amphibious Squadron Eleven, Naval Beach Unit 7 and elements of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, is operating in support of Operation Damayan.

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