The National, Friday, May 20, 2011
By PISAI GUMAR
LAE city laid on a grand welcome as US troops were led a shore by USS Cleveland master and Pacific Partnership (PPII) mission commander Capt Jesse Wilson.
The American servicemen and women were met by a spearing welcome dance from Waria’s and Morobe post locals.
Morobe deputy governor Morokoi Gaiwata, provincial administrator Kemaseng Tomala, deputy administrator district services and PPII organising committee chairman Patilias Gamato, Lae city lord mayor James Khay, city manager Murewe Zurenuoc and provincial youth, sports and culture programme adviser Nane Tomala were on hand to receive the visitors.
Former two-term Huon Gulf MP Tukape Masani turned up for the reception as well.
Despite a rainy morning in Lae, courageous city residents braved the cold weather from as early 6.30am and stood patiently along the beachfront at Vocopoint looking out to the Huon Gulf Bay to catch a glimpse of the vessel.
But for security reasons the vessel anchored some 150 nautical miles east out at sea.
The first 20 US medical professionals were ferried to shore by a navy landing craft.
As soon as the landing craft’s access ramp came down, Wilson stepped out and walked towards waiting advance party media liaison officer Lt Zachary Harrell.
Harrell led Wilson and others to Gamato and Kemaseng and the provincial executives.
The medical professionals who took part in the partnership humanitarian duties for two weeks in Lae walked to the cordon-surrounded area to be entertained by the spearing singsing warriors cheering “Oro, oro, oro”, a renowned welcoming phrase in Morobe south and Northern.
The packed crowd was excited by the two patrol humvees, something they had only seen in movies or news clips.
Police and Guard Dog security personnel provided escorts for the US contingent to the hotel for refreshments.
The official opening ceremony will be held today at the Sir Ignatius Kilage stadium.