NEWS | March 17, 2008

Joint Task Force-Bravo commander pins medals, recognizes efforts of Nicaraguan military group

By Tech. Sgt. William Farrow Joint Task Force-Bravo public affairs

The Joint Task Force-Bravo commander recently presented Humanitarian Service Medals to seven members of Nicaragua Military Group at a brief ceremony in Managua, Nicaragua.

Referring to them as "great Americans," Colonel Marcus De Oliveira, JTF-Bravo commander, pinned medals to Army Lt. Cols. Rob Gaddis and. Luis Utrevas, Navy Cmdr. Angel Oliveras, Army Capt. Gilberto Ruiz, Army Staff Sgt. Roberto Ruiz and Navy and Petty Officer 2nd Class Lenin Sanchez. Navy Cmdr. Brodes Hartley also received a medal but was not present for the ceremony.

The medal is awarded to any member of the United States military (including Reserve and National Guard members) who distinguish themselves by meritorious participation in specified military acts or operations of a humanitarian nature.

The Nicaraguan Military Group members received medals for the duties performed after Hurricane Felix devastated Central America in September, 2007.

In Nicaragua, at least 40,000 people were affected and 9,000 houses destroyed during the destructive category 5 hurricane.

After the hurricane, an appeal was given out by the United Nations for over $48 million in emergency aid to the hard-hit areas, particularly in Nicaragua.

The United States federal government delivered over $1.17 million in assistance. The Nicaragua Military Group assisted JTF-Bravo with coordination for distributing aid and ensuring needs were met by working closely with Nicaraguan government officials.

"It was an incredible team effort and we pulled together with the Nicaraguan Army and non-governmental organizations to get relief to the people," said Colonel Gaddis. "There was no national flag, we all worked together."

The Nicaragua Military Group is organization of 18 U.S. military members who act as a liaison between the Department of Defense and a host nation's military to enhance relationships and provide support to ensure military objectives are met.