Okinawa Marines conclude Philippines relief effort
By MATTHEW M. BURKE | STARS AND STRIPES Published: December 21, 2012
SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — Okinawa-based Marines have wrapped up relief efforts in the Philippines after delivering 375 tons of supplies to victims of Typhoon Bopha, Marine officials said.
Bopha, which made landfall Dec. 4, left more than 700 people dead, hundreds missing and tens of thousands homeless. The Philippines requested assistance from the U.S. government, officials said.
Two KC-130J Hercules aircraft with Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152 arrived Dec. 8 to deliver relief supplies as III Marine Expeditionary Force Forward Command Element established a bilateral center to manage Marine relief efforts and coordinate requests.
About two dozen Marines, helped by other personnel, carried out 22 sorties from Dec. 9-16, a Marine Corps statement said. The supplies included family ration packs, relief aid boxes with personal hygiene items and clothing, high-energy biscuits, rice, generators, mosquito nets, blankets, sleeping mats, tents, and a UN World Food Programme relief module and three of their tents.
A purification unit provided by Marine Corps Forces Pacific has been producing 5,500 gallons of water per hour for eight hours each day, the statement said.
“This relief effort highlighted the range of military operations that III MEF can conduct in a short amount of time,” said Col. Mark Menotti, officer in charge for the III MEF command element. “Within seven hours of being told to execute, we had the KC-130Js on the deck in Manila, and flew the first relief mission less than 24 hours after being tasked.”
Menotti said pre-existing relationships and constant bilateral disaster relief training allowed for a quick and efficient response. He said supplies were shipped, received and distributed all on the same day.
The Marines concluded their efforts Monday, then headed back to Japan.
Personnel from the U.S. Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines and the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance were also assisting relief efforts and remain on the ground in the southern Mindanao area as requested by the Philippines, the release said.
Cpl. Chris Bowen helps off-load relief supplies Dec. 15, 2012, at Davao International Airport, Mindanao, Republic of the Philippines. Bowen is a loadmaster with Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152, Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force.
Jeanscott Dodd/Courtesy U.S. Marine Corps