A mission of caring

Published 4:35 pm Saturday, July 2, 2011

Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Michael Russell, originally from Selma, is currently serving in support of Pacific Partnership 2011 aboard amphibious transport dock ship USS Cleveland (LPD 7).

Cleveland is the lead vessel for Pacific Partnership 2011. Pacific Partnership is the Pacific Fleet’s annual mission to Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands to engage in partnerships with host nations by improving dialogue, effecting a lasting, positive change and employing subject matter expert exchanges in order to improve the capabilities and interoperability of the U.S. and partner nations when dealing with natural and man-made disasters.

“Pacific Partnership is an excellent mission to be a part of,” Russell said. “I am very thankful to have the opportunity to be a part of this mission.

Email newsletter signup

“The people in all of the islands have been so thankful for the work we do.”

Cleveland will visit the Kingdom of Tonga, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste and the Federated States of Micronesia, and the military group will be accompanied by non-government organizations (NGOs) like Project HOPE, Vets Without Borders and the University of California, San Diego Pre-Dental Society.

“I am fortunate to be one of the photographers that gets to document all of the beautiful places we have traveled throughout the Pacific,” Russell said. “The kids really enjoy it when I show them their photo on the back of the camera too.”

Pacific Partnership developed as a mission following the tsunami in 2004, which devastated Indonesia and much of the South Pacific. Since then, Pacific Partnership has treated 150,000 patients in 15 countries, and is supported by all U.S. uniformed services and partner nations including Australia, Japan, and New Zealand. Other nations providing teams include Canada, Spain, Malaysia, and France.

Russell is the husband of Melissa Russell who is also in the U.S. Navy and currently serving aboard USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). They are both stationed at Naval Station North Island in San Diego, Calif.

Russell attended Byrd Elementary School in Selma and graduated from Dallas County High School. He is the son of Julie Covington and David Russell.

– By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christopher Farrington, Public Affairs