By USO Staff
In times of tragedy or disaster, the U.S. military community is historically known to band together – and the ongoing fire aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard in San Diego is no exception.
It has been five days since a fire erupted aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard, an amphibious assault ship homeported in San Diego, California. The fire, which officials speculate began on the vehicle deck of the ship in the morning of July 12, quickly spread throughout the USS Bonhomme Richard, causing an unknown, but presumably extensive, amount of damage.
Within hours of the fire starting, the USO San Diego team was in action supporting the sailors and firefighters battling the blaze, and providing help for dozens of sailors who have lost personal possessions in the fire.
“The USO San Diego team jumped into action, delivering six pallets of bottled water, or 4,368 bottles, to the pier for those engaged in firefighting” said Ashley Camac, USO San Diego executive director. “Since the fire started, we have been in constant motion in support of the impacted sailors and the Navy.”
Sailors from 12 ships, firefighters from federal fire departments and other local firefighters are in an all-out effort to save the ship. According to a July 14 story from Navy Times, days of coordinated firefighting between the U.S. Navy and local authorities have helped decrease the blaze into two smaller — but still massive — ongoing fires. Navy officials said that, as of July 15, 40 sailors and 23 civilians have been treated for minor injuries in relation to the USS Bonhomme Richard fire, including heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation, but no one is currently hospitalized and all of the crew is accounted for. As of the morning of July 16, the situation is still ongoing and is ever-changing.
When the fire first broke out, about 160 people were aboard the ship, which has a crew capacity of roughly 1,000, not including the Marine Expeditionary Unit that normally embarks the ship during deployments.
With the USS Bonhomme Richard fires still ongoing, and the overall damage still unknown, 84 sailors who resided aboard the ship have been temporarily displaced with no more than the clothes on their backs. Currently, they are residing at Naval Base Point Loma.
As a July 13 Stars and Stripes story noted, this has spurred an outpouring of support from the local San Diego community, but unfortunately, has also prompted scammers to take advantage of those wishing to support the USS Bonhomme Richard sailors.
One way people can help is by donating to USO San Diego. In addition to being a long-standing military support organization, the USO San Diego team is also proud to note that several members of the USS Bonhomme Richard crew are also USO volunteers, making the support of the ship even more poignant.
Camac notes that, along with donating monetarily to the USO, those wishing to help USS Bonhomme Richard sailors can donate items like toiletries, snacks and microwaveable foods to USO San Diego for the team to distribute.
The USO team has already delivered a round of donated items to the displaced sailors at Naval Base Point Loma and plans to work with local military leaders to coordinate further drop-offs.
“The USO San Diego team knows how to make things happen,” said Bob Kurkjian, president of USO West and a Navy reservist. “Ashley Camac is a Navy spouse herself, so this fire hits close to home.”
“We’ll be here for our troops and their families now and in the future,” Camac said. “And we are proud to serve the American people as a trusted means for them to show appreciation to our military.”
More from the USO
Aug 3, 2020
What is a Military Support Organization?
There are many military support organizations, military charities and veteran service organizations out there, but it can sometimes be difficult to understand what each one does. Find out what a military support organization like the USO does and how we assist service members and military families.