Weather a blessing for O’Kane volunteers

LIHU’E — “At least it’s not raining,” said U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Joseph Lucas of the USS O’ Kane, while taking a breather yesterday.

Lucas was one of nine volunteers from the guidedmissile destroyer who turned out to work alongside Eddie Sarita, the gateway project coordinator, and Johnny Michael of the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) at Barking Sands in Mana, near Kekaha.

“We were a little late in getting in,” said Ensign Stephanie George, the USS O’Kane’s community-relations officer. “We ran into fog, and rain, and the weather just from getting in early.”

The USS O’Kane (DDG-77) docked Saturday morning, welcomed to Nawiliwili Harbor by a double rainbow created by the passage of a squall line, but welcomed by parttime Kaua’i resident John Feagans, also, who was on hand to capture the scene.

Feagans, whose children are involved with the U.S. Naval Academy, was anxious to send the pictorial trophy to them.

George said that, during the travels of the ship, they often do community service at their ports of call, and getting volunteers for the gateway project was not a problem.

“They love it,” she said. “It’s a way for them to get out of doing things that’s not ship-related, and a nice way to actually experience the life of the port they’re visiting.”

George, whose job entails being a liaison between the commander and the point of contact at their port of call, said they’ve done these kinds of projects in other countries they’ve called on.

“In the Seychelles (Islands), there was a fence that had to be put up,” Lucas pointed out, while recollecting a detail they had done. “But, before we could put up the fence, we had to clear the fence-line, which looked like it had several years of over-growth.

“They didn’t have power equipment, so we had to attack the mass with nothing but machetes, picks, and shovels,” he continued. “All of that in hot, hot sun. This (the gateway project) is easy. We have motorized equipment, the sun is not shining, the wind keeps us cool, and at least it’s not raining.”

Members of the Saturday detail worked the gateway project for “a few hours” before adjourning back to the ship that will leave Nawiliwili Harbor Monday afternoon.

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