NEWS | Nov. 12, 2007

U.S., Dominican forces deliver food, medicine to remote villages

By Staff Sgt. Austin M. May Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs

A team of servicemembers from the United States and the Dominican Republic delivered more than 4,900 pounds of provisions to villages in the south-central region of the country Nov. 11.

The deliveries were part of an ongoing Tropical Storm Noel relief effort led by U.S. Army South, which began delivering food, blankets and medical supplies to the Dominican Republic Nov. 3.

The team was made up of six U.S. servicemembers deployed from Joint Task Force-Bravo, Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, and one lieutenant from the Dominican air force. After dropping medical personnel and 300 pounds of supplies in the town of Paya for a follow-up to a Nov. 10 Expeditionary Medical Liaison team mission, they flew to Azua to pick up bags of food for the deliveries.

Local civilians and military in Paya assisted in loading the bags into the team's Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, which flew the loads to the towns of El Rocodo, Miguel Martin and El Desechado.

Chief Warrant Officer Four Tim Connor, one of two UH-60 Black Hawk pilots flying the missions, said halfway through the operation he wasn't exactly sure how much food was going to be provided, but that it didn't matter.

"As long as they have food to be delivered, we're going to take it out to these people," he said. "That's why we're here."

Mr. Connor said the team was well-received in each village they visited.

"As soon as they heard and saw the helicopter coming in, the people in the towns ran waving and cheering to where we were landing," he said. "They were very eager to help us offload the supplies, which gives us more time to visit other villages."

The UH-60 crew, including two pilots and two crew chiefs, is from the 1st Battalion-228th Aviation Regiment, based at Soto Cano. The Nov. 11 mission was the third of this type in as many days for the aviators.

According to Chief Warrant Officer Five Robert Dillard, U.S. Army South aviation operations officer for the task force, the provisions delivered were provided by the United States Agency for International Development, the World Food Program and the host nation. Medical supplies used for EML missions were provided by JTF-Bravo.

Since Nov. 1, American and British aircrews have flown more than 196 hours and delivered more than 241,000 pounds of provisions to the island nation as part of a Combined, Joint, International relief effort following Tropical Storm Noel.