U.S. Military Helicopters Airlift 61,000 Pounds Of Aid To El Salvador
By Dialogo November 17, 2009Joint Task Force-Bravo members, based at Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, distributed 61,000 pounds of food, water and clothing to remote villages of El Salvador Nov. 13. The two-day combined total of supplies transported by the helicopters is more than 82,000 pounds, said Air Force Staff Sgt. Kristina Adams, JTF-Bravo supply liaison officer. The villages of Verapaz, Guadalupe, Santa Maria Ostumas and San Vicente were most affected by the floods completely cutting the towns off by damaging the roads and bridges after the Nov. 8 mudslides. More than 40 JTF-Bravo personnel along with four 1st Battalion, 228th Regiment helicopters deployed Nov. 11 to provide the people of El Salvador humanitarian aid. The helicopter crews spent the day traveling from town to town collecting and distributing supplies and transporting personnel. In addition to delivering supplies to flood-damaged communities, JTF-Bravo assisted in a damage assessment mission. One UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter from JTF-Bravo carried a combined U.S., Salvadoran damage assessment team to several sites affected by mudslides caused by the recent heavy rains. Engineers from U.S. Southern Command, together with Salvadoran military engineers, assisted El Salvador´s Ministry of Health gathering data from areas with damaged infrastructure. "Today we went to look at about a half-dozen bridges to get a sense of how bad they are," said Air Force Lt. Col. Anthony Higdon, Central America Engineer Team chief from U.S. Southern Command. "We are working in cooperation with the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance to support the Salvadoran Ministry of Public Works and the Salvadoran Engineer Command of the Armed Forces." Finally a medical assessment team traveled to several of the villages affected by the floods to determine whether a medical training and readiness exercise, or MEDRETE, would be possible. The medical assessment team was lead by medical element liaison officer, Guillermo Saenz. He said from the early assessment he feels that a MEDRETE for the region would be possible in the coming weeks.