PUNTA ARENAS, Costa Rica, –
Members of Joint Task Force Bravo supported the U.S.N.S Comfort Deployment 2019 in Costa Rica from July 21 – 30, along the coast of Punta Arena, Costa Rica.
Pilots and aircrew assigned to the 1st Battalion, 228th Aviation Regiment (1-228 AVN) transported personnel and equipment to allow the U.S. Naval Ship Comfort to provide medical care to Costa Rican citizens and Venezuelan migrants as part of the United states enduring promise of helping its southern neighbors.
“We’ve been here as the rotary wing aviation unit from the United States Army supporting the Comfort and its mission to bring humanitarian aid services and medical services that are other wiseotherwise unavailable to people in the Punta Arenas area of Costa Rica,” said U.S. Army Capt. Andrew Gillian, 1-228 AVN future operations officer. “The Comfort is using our services in a capacity to do ship- to- shore operations. They’ve got a landing pad on the ship, the Comfort, and what we do is we land on the comfort and pick up passengers, we pick up supplies, medical equipment, and Wwhatever the cComfort needs us to transport and bring that to helicopter landing zones on the Punta Arenas peninsula.”
The unit utilized three UH-60 Blackhawks to haul more than 470 personnel and 20 tons of cargo to and from the Comfort and medical sites.
“I’ve been the pilot in command of several of the missions that we have done,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 James Ward, 1-228 AVN Alpha Company Blackhawk pilot. “We have done everything from resupply to passenger movement from the Ccomfort to Chacarita. These missions have been for a humanitarian service that we provided to Costa Rica in support of individuals that needed health care help.
Due to the support provided by Winged Warriors, the Comfort team was able to provide service to more than 8,500 patients during the ten-day period.
“We have been supporting the U.S.N.S Comfort by transporting sling loads and people back and forth to the ship,” said U.S. Army Spc. Calvin Fouquet, 1-228 AVN Alpha Company Blackhawk crew chief. “When we’re coming in for the sling loads I am calling them in, calling them over to their location and dropping down the sling loads once we reach the destination.”
This deployment is part of U.S. Southern Command’s Enduring Promise initiative and reflects the United States’ enduring promise of friendship, partnership, and solidarity with the Americas.
The U.S. service members worked hand-in-hand with Costa Rican government and health care officials while providing medical care in partner nation communities, This includesing areas those whose health delivery systems are strained by increasing numbers of Venezuelans fleeing deteriorating conditions in their own country. caused by the illegitimate regime of Nicolas Maduro.
“This mission makes me feel really good. Part of the reason I joined [the military] was in order to be a part of something bigger than myself, and being able to be down here and actually do that, and provide aid that they wouldn’t actually get, makes me feel full,” Fouquet said.