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MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – A Navy dentist with 1st Dental Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, is preparing for a deployment to the Philippines, where he will provide free dental care for the local population.
Navy Cmdr. (Dr.) William Lyons, a native of Dubuque, Iowa, has been serving in humanitarian assistance projects for nearly 25 years.
“It’s one of the best things I think a person could do,” he said. “It’s rewarding in more ways than money could ever be.”
Lyons recalled a girl in Vietnam who was about 10 years old and had broken off a front tooth. “She didn’t have it fixed for a long time, and I was able to put on a restoration to restore the contour and aesthetics,” he said. “The smile that little girl gave me back is just something I’ll never forget.”
Lyons has been to Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, Philippines, and Vietnam to provide dental care.
“Every place has its own unique experiences, meeting the different people,” he said. “They are friendly and just all-around good people. It makes you happy just to provide treatment for them.”
Lyons is prepared to deploy to the Philippines in early March, and said he is very excited for another opportunity to help a community.
“If one wants to go to a country and meet the people, volunteer work is an excellent way to do that,” he said. “You’re going to link up with some local people, and they’ll take you into their group and show you things you wouldn’t see as a tourist.”
Lyons said he learns new things every time he volunteers. Whether on the home front in San Diego or overseas in an impoverished country, he said, he is ready to help.
“Regardless of what you are doing, it improves you in a sense that is not easy to explain,” he added. “You get a lot of self-satisfaction out of it.”