SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras –
Riding in a convoy down the roads of the Olancho Department, Honduras, U.S. Army Sgt. Stephanie Tucker wondered how this mission would compare to all the others she had been on.
The roads are full of holes and bumps from years of frequent travel. Houses are run down, hanging together by pieces of rebar. Cattle migrate along the road, moved along by a man on a motorcycle.
It's a different world for most raised in the United States, but for those taking part in this medical readiness training exercise, the big picture of why they're here becomes more visible.
Tucker a radiologist technician from the medical element at Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, traveled with others, to make the journey to Olancho, Nov. 11, 2015, to conduct a MEDRETE and medical partnership exercise with Honduran physicians and members of non-governmental organizations.
During this time frame, doctors, dentists, nurses and technicians came together to provide time and services to the locals in need of basic medical attention.
"I learned quite a few things the past three days," said Tucker, "I was assigned to the pharmacy for this mission to assist with handing out medications, so I was able to learn new words for medicines and how to give directions in Spanish."
As a mother, Tucker went on to speak about the children she encountered.
"I'll see children that remind me of my daughter; it's hard seeing children not living the same way as my daughter or myself when I was a child," said Tucker. "They don't have the same opportunities or conveniences, it's a different culture and what is normal to them may not be normal to us. I just have to keep reminding myself that."
Tucker added that by providing the services that MEDEL has to offer, she felt that they left the locals with a positive image of the U.S. military. Seeing the smiles on the local's faces, we all knew that they were happy we were there, and that's all that matters.
These MEDRETEs and MPEs support thousands of people throughout Central America and the Caribbean. They support humanitarian and civic assistance operations to enhance U.S. and Central American relations and support medical training with host nation military forces, as well as government and civilian organizations.