Essex begins Cobra Gold 2009
Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Greg Johnson
The forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2)
arrived off the coast of Thailand Feb. 7 to participate in Exercise Cobra
Cobra Gold is a regularly scheduled multinational exercise hosted annually
by the Kingdom of Thailand. CG 09 is the latest in a continuing series of
exercises designed to promote regional peace and security.
Ryan Kalmore from St. Croix Falls Wis. assigned to the forward-deployed dock
landing ship USS Tortuga uses a stadimeter to find the distance from the
Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oiler USNS Rappahannock as it
steams alongside the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Essex
during a replenishment at sea while en route to support Cobra Gold 09. (U.S.
Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class David Didier/Released)
“Working with our long-time friend and ally, Thailand, is always one of the
highlights of our spring patrol,” said Essex commanding officer Capt. Brent
Canady. “Cobra Gold provides a great opportunity for all nations involved to
improve (their) interoperability.”
Essex is operating with the dock landing ships USS Tortuga (LSD 46) and USS
Harpers Ferry (LSD 49), and the guided missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG
63), along with military personnel representing Thailand, Singapore, Japan
and Indonesia. The exercise is being held to demonstrate the ability to
deploy a joint task force rapidly to conduct joint/combined operations,
transition of authority with a United Nations Force, and a field training
During the exercise, Essex has been conducting naval maneuvers with the
Royal Thai Navy. Essex sailors are also participating in a community
relations project at a local school. Activities include minor repair work,
painting and spending time with the children.
“One of our goals is to be ambassadors of goodwill and friendship,” said
Cmdr. Chin Dang, Essex command chaplain. “That goodwill works both ways,
too. When a sailor goes out and does something good for someone in need, it
makes them feel good about themselves.”
James Anderson paints a shelter at Sang Song La Nursery in Sattahip, along
with Royal Thai Navy Sailors and other U.S. Marines and sailors as part of a
community relations project during Cobra Gold 2009. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt.
The project is scheduled to take place during a port visit, which will also
serve as a chance for sailors and marines to enjoy a few days in Thailand.
Essex Morale Welfare and Recreation department is offering a variety of
tours featuring the country’s rich culture and exotic landscape.
“We try to offer a variety of tours for the sailors and marines during each
port visit,” said Mick Hultz, Essex afloat recreation specialist. “Thailand
has a rich and varied history that Essex sailors are going to get to
In all, Essex’ MWR will offer 13 tours, featuring everything from Thailand’s
ancient city of Muang Boran to its famous floating market. Many Essex
sailors are not strangers to the country. This visit will be the second for
Aviation Machinist’s Mate First Class (AW/SW) Guy Dickantone, of Fort Wayne,
Specialist 1st Class (SW) Stephanie Kendall paints a school building at Sang
Song La Nursery in Sattahip. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Dan Garcia)
“Last visit, I toured the floating market and it was very interesting,” said
Dickantone. “You travel through the market just like the Thai people did
before there were roads. You float through, buy what you want to buy and
Dickantone said he has seen Thailand’s diverse culture first-hand and is
looking forward to something new during this visit.
“MWR tours are great because they give sailors a chance to experience a
foreign country with a group of familiar people,” he said. “It’s also
provides sailors a fun educational alternative to the nightclubs and bars
and helps them to stay out of trouble. Hopefully it will be a safe,
enjoyable port visit for everyone.”
Essex is the lead ship of the only forward-deployed U.S. Expeditionary
Strike Group and serves as the flagship for CTF 76, the Navy’s only
forward-deployed amphibious force commander. Task Force 76 is headquartered
at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa, Japan, with a detachment in Sasebo,
Thousands make merit
on Makha Bucha Day
Buddhists light candles and
incense sticks to pay respect to the Buddha,
Dharma and Sangha at Wat Nong Yai.
Buddhists are blessed with
holy water from the revered monk at Wat Nong Yai in North Pattaya, after
tamboon, or making offerings to the monks.
Revered monks lead the
in the wien thien ceremony at Wat Nong Yai.
February 9 this year was an important day for all Buddhists, as it
was the date on which Makha Bucha Day (Buddhist All Saints Day) fell. This
important occasion for Buddhists marks the first sermon of the Lord Buddha
to 1250 monks.
perhaps thousands of Buddhists perform the wien thien, walking clockwise 3
times around Wat Nong Yai in North Pattaya.
In Pattaya, thousands of devout Buddhists turned out at local temples to
conduct ceremonies that have been performed throughout Buddhist history, and
make merit for themselves and their families.
The morning ceremonies were filled with people presenting offerings to the
monks, performing “tak baht” and listening to monks preach the Dharma, or
teachings, of the Buddha.
Ceremonies were continued in the evening, with many people performing the
“Wien Thien” whereby believers light candles and circle the temple’s prayer
room three times.
This holy day commemorates the miraculous event when 1,250 disciples of the
Buddha, Gautama Sakayamuni, traveled to meet with the Buddha with no
prearranged agreement, at Weluwan Mahawiharn Temple in the area of
Worshipping or ‘Bucha’ occurs on the 15th Day of the waning moon of the
third lunar month, or ‘Makha’. This year the event fell on February 9.
The day gained official recognition in Thailand during the reign of King
Rama IV and became a nationally observed day with all government
institutions closing down and observing the rituals associated with Buddhist
Devout followers participated in morning ceremonies, making merit and
listening to sermons at local temples, and later in the evening returned to
the temple to perform the “wien thien ceremony” - walking three circuits
around sacred grounds, paying homage to the “Triple Gem” or the Buddha,
Dhamma and Sangha. The day is observed all over Thailand.
Other countries where the Buddhist faith is predominant and where Makha
Bucha Day is officially observed as a national day include Nepal, Myanmar,
Cambodia, Laos, Sri Lanka and India. Other countries with populations
observing the day but in limited numbers include China, Korea and Vietnam.
Disseminating the Buddha’s teachings and the journey to meet with the Buddha
on the 15th night of the 3rd lunar month are part of the historical events
that include the sermons and truths spoken by the Buddha.
Having good intentions, not harming others, avoiding evil actions and making
the heart and mind pure in thought were among the truths spoken by the
Buddha. Additionally, other truths spoken by the Buddha cautioned individual
restraint in all that attracts one’s attention, to include desiring
possessions belonging to others, and exploiting others for personal gain.
Before departing, the Buddha also referred to the people’s interest in
making merit, gaining self-esteem and a comfortable reassurance that moral
integrity exists. More importantly, having faith in the “Triple Gem”
(Phraratanatrai) was illustrated by emphasizing the importance of avoiding
drunken, irresponsible and immoral behavior, and maintaining focus on
supporting loved ones while being content in one’s existence with friends
and without selfish greed.
This year was busier than most years, as the holy day fell on the day after
the weekend, when most people returned home to be with their families. One
Buddhist said that during the past year many untoward events took place, so
all the family made merit to bless the departed, create greater
understanding among family members and teach Buddhism concepts to the
younger members of the family.
Thai fire-extinguishing ball being released upon the world
Ponwachanan Kraimart is now ready to export his award winning
fire-extinguishing ball to over 50 countries worldwide.
The Thai’s invention has already won five global safety awards, and his
company is now ready to be manufactured on a large scale and exported.
Ponwachanan Kraimart (left) presents a gift to Alongkorn Ponlaboot, Deputy
Minister of Commerce.
The proud inventor said that the ball, weighing 1.3 kg and filled with
chemical powder, explodes when exposed to extreme heat for 3-10 seconds and
will quickly put out a small fire.
On January 30 at Siam Safety Company in Soi Wat Nong Yai in Banglamung,
Deputy Minister of Commerce Alongkorn Ponlaboot presided over a press
conference for the Elite Fire Ball.
The inventor, representatives from the National Research Council, Volunteer
Aid Association of Thailand, overseas distributors, the media and guests
attended the press conference.
Ponwachanan said the ball is very effective in putting out a small fire.
With a big fire it will still do its work by reducing the intensity of the
flame. It is very easy to use as there is no need to get near the flames, as
the ball can simply be thrown at the fire and the chemical bomb will do its
Ponwachanan also said that the ball could be hung in areas such as the
kitchen so that in case of a fire, the ball would automatically explode. The
120 db sound it makes would also alarm family in the rest of house.
Plans are being made for a manufacturing plant on five acres of land which
will produce 100,000 balls a day.
But Deputy Minister Alongkorn said that currently there are many violations
on the patent of this invention by people with financial and political
power, to the financial disadvantage of the inventor.
The ministry is taking actions to protect intellectual property by
co-operating with national police and punishing heavily those who violate
Mediums placate the gods in Sattahip
Mediums cut their tongues in
to communicate with the Chinese God of death.
Mediums were helping to relay messages from the gods to humans at
the Pattani Shrine and the Shrine of Ngek Sian Hong Tae in Sattahip in this
the Chinese Year of the Ox.
Various ways were being used to change bad personal fortunes for the better
to get ready for a good year to come.
Two mediums did this by making cuts on their tongues and using the blood to
worship the god of death. Then a Chinese God was invited to communicate with
a spiritual medium through a human corpse.
Faithful followers who had gathered at the Sattahip shrines on February 4
believed that the Chinese God had actually come to relieve suffering humans
on earth, especially those who were born in the Year of the Monkey, the Pig,
the Horse and the Dragon, which are intertwined with the Year of the Ox.
People who were born in the Year of the Ox were told to be cautious on the
waxing moon on the 15th day of the 3rd lunar month (or February 9, 2009, and
June 21, 2009). There might be an accident, and people should not be
careless. They should also attend a ceremony to extend their lives.
Regarding people who were born in the Year of the Horse, they should also
attend the ceremony to change their misfortune in a ceremony to lengthen
The mediums who were bleeding their tongues amazed worshippers by seemingly
not feeling any pain.
To these worshippers, human life is connected to the stars and any help from
above could make a vital difference to this Year of the Ox.
Entertainment venues told to ensure adequate fire safety
(L to R) Banglamung
District Chief Mongkol Thamakittikhun, Sumet Sara-Aporn from Chonburi
Public Works and City Planning, and Chonburi Deputy Governor Pisit
Boonchuang talk about fire safety.
Chonburi entertainment venues have been told to ensure adequate
fire safety to avoid another fatal blaze such as the New Year’s Eve
tragedy at the Santika Pub in Bangkok.
Local officials said that failure to comply with the recent fire safety
directive from the Ministry of Interior could result in hefty fines
On February 3 at Pattaya City Hall, Chonburi Deputy Governor Pisit
Boonchuang outlined operational fire safety guidelines in a meeting with
Banglamung District Chief Mongkol Thamakittikhun, Sumet Sara-Aporn from
Chonburi Public Works and City Planning, and 200 entrepreneurs from the
Deputy Governor Pisit said that the government’s policy stresses the
safety of buildings, life and property and entrepreneurs are expected to
do their share to ensure the safety of their customers.
For breaches of the law there is maximum fine of 60,000 baht or three
months in prison, or both.
He said building and operating licenses must correspond to the
building’s use. The law also requires the venues have a fire safety
system covering fire exit, building plan information, fire extinguishing
equipment, fire alarms, and emergency lighting.
All Pattaya entrepreneurs are encouraged to gain a better understanding
of all legal standards involving installation, building operations and
controls necessary for their operation.
The regulations also include no underage customers (under 18 years of
age), no firearms, no drugs and no lewd shows.
Breaking any of these regulations will lead to a closure of the venue
for either 60 days or 90 days.
Pisit said officials will strictly monitor safety with regular
inspections according to the Entertainment Code.
Condo workers demand pay
Construction workers block the
entrance to this building site,
demanding six months worth of back pay.
Dozens of protesting workers blocked the front of a condominium construction
project on Jomtien Beach to demand that a foreign investor pay them more
than six months of back pay.
The Thai building contractor reportedly had to mortgage his house and pawn
his cars to pay his workers. The project manager had on credit supplied
construction materials worth more than 60 million baht but the investor is
refusing to pay for them.
But the project owner came to meet workers’ representatives and promised to
pay up no later than 10 p.m. on Monday before driving off in his luxury car.
On February 4, Pol. Lt-Col. Gritsiri Prasertchoke, Najomtien Chief
Inspector, led police to the condo project in Najomtien where more than 100
workers had closed the entrance to the construction site.
Waving protest signs demanding to be paid, the workers blocked the site.
Police negotiated with them in vain to clear the road but the workers vowed
to stay put until they get paid.
Wittaya Cheunprasert, 30, from Pratumthani Province, is project engineer
turned protest leader. He said that he was the building contractor for this
project which had been going for about 18 months but started to have
financial problems six months ago.
The project owner keeps postponing payment of wages and material costs,
recently offering 300,000 baht which was not nearly enough for overdue bills
of more than six months, he said.”
Police catch hotel thief
Pattaya Tourist Police arrested a former hotel employee red-handed
as he was allegedly trying to steal electrical goods worth 700,000 baht from
a hotel, having been hired to do so by another former employee of the same
(seated) was caught trying to steal items from the California Hotel.
At 4 a.m. on February 4, Pol. Lt-Col. Suwan Un-anan of Tourist Police
Station 4 and other officers went to the California Hotel on Pratamnak Road
and nabbed Nakhon Manorangsimorakot, 37, from Chachoengsao, as he was
allegedly in the middle of trying to unscrew a stove hood from the hotel
Police seized one cooker hood, a bag of tools and two ya ba pills.
Hotel caretaker Komrat Patwongwan, 46, told police that from January 27-30 a
thief had been breaking into the hotel, which was closed for renovation.
Missing were two 32” flat-screen televisions, seven color TVs, six
refrigerators, nine air conditioners, two microwaves, and other valuable
items valued at more than 700,000 baht.
According to police, Nakhon told them that Nok, a former caretaker and wife
of the hotel’s owner, had hired him for 2,000 baht to remove the hotel goods
and deliver them to her house in Petchabun. He thought that all of the
property belonged to Nok.
Regarding the ya ba, he said Nok had purchased it for him to consume.
Illegal workers deported
Pattaya Tourist Police arrested 24 illegal workers from Burma, Laos
and Cambodia at their construction work camp. Procedures have begun to
deport them back to their respective countries.
arrested 24 foreigners working illegally on a construction site in South
At 6 a.m. on February 6, Pol. Capt. Supraphan Phopirom, deputy inspector at
Tourist Police 4, and a team of tourist police and police volunteers
investigated a construction site behind the Grand Hall market in South
The officers arrested 24 male and female illegal workers comprising 9
Burmese, 12 Cambodians and three Laotians.
The workers said a Thai man named Nok had picked them up at the Srakaew
border and had dropped them off at this construction site but he was alerted
and had escaped.
Police said they would pursue the employer for punishment according to the
slot machines from mall
Police confiscated 16 slot machines and arrested 20 gamblers using
them in a raid on The Avenue Plaza shopping mall on Pattaya 2nd Road on
load up the offending machines to cart them away.
The deputy commander of the Chonburi Provincial, Pol. Col. Kittipong Ngaomuk
ordered the raid, which was then led by Pol. Col. Sarayut Sanguanpokai,
superintendent at the Pattaya Police Station.
Police found a room full of the machines and crowded with their users behind
a hidden door in the mall beside Major Cineplex and arrested 20 men and
women who were playing them.
Detained were Worapong Amkamnerd, Katanyoo Dangni, Pongthorn Nantiwat,
Padetsuk Panthong, Natthawut Rattanakasikorn, Krathip Kluingebin, Pin
Chinra, Somwang Pithorm, Wanchai Bunyodom, Wittaya Wapa, Sirichai Petch-o,
Supot Wanramat, Poodam Wang-ngernklang, Watsana Kotchang, Nantiya Naksamrit,
and Kulawanit Bunlah who were all charged with illegal gambling.
The owner of the slot machines is still being sought with the media
wondering how these illegal machines had been installed in a well-known
plaza in town with people openly gambling on them.
Farang body found in sea
The body of an unidentified foreign man was found floating in the
sea off Nah Yak Beach on Koh Larn. Police believe the cause of death may be
At 8 p.m. on February 5, Pol. Lt-Col. Roengwit Rakchat from the Pattaya
Police Station led police investigators and Sawang Boriboon Foundation
rescuers to the spot where the body was found, a kilometer away from Samae
The dead man was aged between 50-60, 180 cm tall and he was lying face up on
a reef. He was wearing a blue short-sleeved shirt and cream-colored shorts
with a black belt. A lighter, a set of keys, 55 baht in cash and a bottle of
water were also found at the scene.
The police estimated that he had been dead for approximately 6 hours.
Police said there was no evidence of a struggle, and said the few minor
scratches on his face may have been caused by waves thrusting him against
After questioning people in the area, no one was found who could identify
the dead man. His body has been sent to the Police Forensic Hospital for an
autopsy to determine the cause of death and his identity.
Two arrested for house burglaries
Police were finally able to
stop house burglars
Sayan Thongma and Amnuay Guilen.
Chonburi Police pounced on two alleged burglars who had robbed a
string of houses in Pattaya. After the arrest, police were able to return
many items valued at more than 300,000 baht to 10 Thai and foreign
At 5 p.m. on January 31, Pol. Lt-Col. Skatad Pumphanmuang led police to
track down a gang that has been systematically breaking into houses
belonging to Thai and foreigners in the Banbung Police Station’s area.
Police raided a house on Soi Photisan in Naklua, and found two suspected
Sayan (or Pao) Thongma, 28, and Amnuay (or Pae) Guilen, 18, were arrested
and charged with theft, vandalism of personal property and possession of
Police said they also found two digital cameras, two video cameras, one DVD
player, one MP3 player, a gold bracelet, a gold ring, a gold necklace, many
watches and 10 pawnshop tickets.
Later Dieter Jurgen, 67, of German nationality, came forward to retrieve
several items belonging to him. Rener Henkes, 50, from Germany, also
identified his property that had been stolen such as gold items, watches and
The burglary victims thanked police officers for the arrests and the early
return of their belongings.