NEWS | June 4, 2010

JTF-Bravo helps victims of Guatemala disaster

By 1st Lt. Jennifer Richard Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs

Helicopters and personnel from Joint Task Force-Bravo transported 12,800 pounds of relief supplies June 3 to four areas of Guatemala affected by Tropical Storm Agatha and the Pacaya volcano eruption.

The JTF-Bravo team, from Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, deployed to Guatemala June 1 after receiving orders from U.S. Southern Command to support Guatemala's ongoing disaster relief efforts. As of June 3, U.S. military aircraft transported nearly 53,000 pounds of relief supplies to disaster victims.

Since their arrival in Guatemala, the JTF-Bravo personnel have worked closely with members of the Guatemalan military and CONRED (the Guatemalan equivalent of the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency) to bring aid to areas most in need.

"The Guatemalans have been working shoulder-to-shoulder with us," said Chief Warrant Officer Ken Roqhuett, 1st Battalion, 228th Aviation Regiment pilot. "Although we speak different languages and come from different backgrounds, at the end of the day we're able to come together to plan and execute our missions."

For the members of JTF-Bravo, it is rewarding to work with Guatemalans to execute one of the task force's primary missions, humanitarian assistance/disaster relief.

"The most remarkable part so far has been seeing the faces of people when the helicopters first arrived in Guatemala," said Lt. Col. Curtis Anderson, mission commander. "We're showing Guatemalans that the U.S. military and Joint Task Force-Bravo are committed to helping the people of Central America."

Joint Task Force-Bravo responds to natural disasters, such as Tropical Storm Agatha, throughout Central America and beyond. The task force deployed four helicopters and approximately 40 personnel to assist in Haiti March 21- May 24, supporting U.S. Southern Command's Joint Task Force-Haiti. Joint Task Force-Bravo also provided critical disaster relief in El Salvador following floods and mudslides there last November, transporting more than 370,000 pounds of relief supplies to communities in need.

The men and women of JTF-Bravo may be experienced in providing humanitarian assistance, but conducting disaster relief operations is nothing to take lightly, according to U.S. Army Col. Gregory Reilly, JTF-Bravo Commander.

"I feel very proud of how the team is handling the mission," said Colonel Reilly. "However, we can't lose focus on what it's all about--helping the people of Guatemala. That is what we're here for."