"The Navy is the primary sponsor," Gibbins said. "The overall goal was to show our presence in the region, build partnerships with the countries, and focus on medical care and engineering projects."
Gibbins was aboard the USNS Mercy, which is one of two hospital ships the Navy has based in San Diego, Calif. While the ship visited such countries as the Philippines, Vietnam and Papua New Guinea, Gibbins spent his time in a small country south of Indonesia called Timor-Leste, which has been a democracy since 2002.
"It was a good experience; very rewarding, and the people were very appreciative," he said. "It gives you an appreciation of how fortunate we are here. The poorest people in Portsmouth are rich compared to the people in Timor."
Gibbins is a son of Ed and Laura Gibbins of Minford, and graduated from Minford High School, and in 1992, graduated from The Ohio State University with a degree in veterinary medicine. He worked in Wheelersburg with Dr. Don Collins from 1992 to 1996, then worked in Springfield for a year before joining the Air Force, where he served six years before joining the public health service.
He said the goal of Pacific Partnership is to bring together host nations, partner nations and non-governmental organizations to build collaborative relationships by providing engineering, civic, medical and dental assistance to the region.
"There were military representatives from eight different countries and several non-government organizations like Operation Smile and Project Hope," Gibbins said. "The public health service provided three different teams of 15 people to the Navy for the missions."
Describing the country and its people, Gibbins said there are about 1 million people in the country, which is very rural and agriculture-based. Per capita income, he said, is about $350 to $500 per year per family.
Gibbins said he and two other veterinarians, one from the U.S. Army and one from India, provided consultation to the farmers on how to raise cattle and treat diseases, and provided some pet animal care.
"People there really don't have pets like we think of here, but there are a few cats and dogs," he said.
" There are no private vets in the entire country," John said. "We taught some classes on simple diseases and how they can recognize them. They don't have access to antibiotics, so the goal was to train lay people on how to do basic vaccinations and health care."
In a prepared statement, Adm. Robert Willard, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, said, "I think our sailors and the docs and dentists and engineers we employ in these partnership missions get certainly as much out of it and come away as immensely satisfied as do the nations we serve."