U.S. Sailors Spend Shore Leave in Haifa to Help Kids and Elderly

Sailors from the visiting U.S. aircraft carrier Coral Sea volunteered much of their shore leave in Haifa last week to do good deeds for local children and the elderly and to apply fresh paint to shabby homes in rundown neighborhoods. They also raised money to send a young Haifa girl to the U.S. for a life-saving operation.

But the sea did not reward their kindness. High waves whipped by winds howling across Haifa Bay swept away the landing stage and gangway, making it impossible for the men to rejoin their ship Saturday night. Many were invited by Haifa families to spend the night. Others were provided with beds at a near by Israel Navy base. Some slept at dockside.

The storm forced postponement of a show aboard the Coral Sea by entertainers flown from the U.S. by the Defense Department. Also put off was a ceremony at which a check was to be presented to II-year-old Moshit Shabo to fly her and her mother to the U.S. for an urgently needed liver transplant, an operation that cannot be performed in Israel because it is forbidden by the Orthodox religious authorities.

The show will go on, however, Moshit will be in the audience, and parts of Haifa will look a good deal better because of the Coral Sea’s visit. Her men were only completing a job started by their fellow-salts from the carrier, USS Saratoga, which berthed in Haifa two weeks ago.

About 40 seamen went to the Rothschild Hospital to finish painting popular cartoon characters on the walls of the children’s ward. Later they visited an old aged home to help cheer up the residents.

The Coral Sea’s skipper, Capt. Bob Ferguson, said the work done by his men in their free time was of benefit to all concerned. The children and the aged were helped and the sailors had a chance to meet people other than their shipmates with whom they live in close quarters for long periods of time.

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