Navy Officer Receives Netherlands Humanitarian Service Award

by Navy PAO
29 June 2020
Photo By: NA
VIRIN: 210120-N-N0831-0106
SAN DIEGO, Calif. – Lt. Ben Hondrum, the operations officer aboard USS Stethem, was awarded the Netherlands Humanitarian Service Medal for his extraordinary support in disaster relief efforts following Hurricane Irma in 2017 which devastated the region.
Cmdr. John Rummel, commanding officer of USS Stethem, presented Hondrum with the award at a small ceremony on behalf of the Netherlands Defense Attaché to the United States, Air Commodore Paul Herber.
Hondrum was serving as Personal Exchange Officer aboard His Netherlands Majesties Ship Zeeland operating in the Caribbean when the call came out for the ship to set course to St. Maarten via Aruba to provide aid. Hurricane Irma was the strongest Atlantic hurricane on record, and the first Category 5 hurricane to strike the Windward Islands of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Upon arriving to St. Maarten, Hondrum and the crew of HNLMS Zeeland discovered widespread damage across the island and that all communications had been cut-off.  Their first priority was to re-establish communications and restore the harbor to allow for supplies and other aid to reach the island. Due to the extensive damage, no machinery was available to move debris, so the restoration process was all done by hand. Hondrum, the crew and others assisting in the relief effort had just finished restoring a portion of the harbor when the warning alarm sounded, alerting the island that hurricane Jose would soon be making landfall. Hondrum maintained his focus, professionalism and commitment to the people of St. Maarten and continued to support the crew of HNLMS Zeeland in their relief efforts.

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