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U.S. Army Spc. Lucas Callaghan of the 87th Quartermaster Detachment, Okinawa, inpsects the contents of an ambulance prior to its shipment to Sri Lanka. More than $1.6 million in hospital supplies and vehicles are being shipped to the war-torn island nation.

U.S. Army Spc. Lucas Callaghan of the 87th Quartermaster Detachment, Okinawa, inpsects the contents of an ambulance prior to its shipment to Sri Lanka. More than $1.6 million in hospital supplies and vehicles are being shipped to the war-torn island nation. (Chip Steitz/Courtesy U.S. Army)

U.S. Army Spc. Lucas Callaghan of the 87th Quartermaster Detachment, Okinawa, inpsects the contents of an ambulance prior to its shipment to Sri Lanka. More than $1.6 million in hospital supplies and vehicles are being shipped to the war-torn island nation.

U.S. Army Spc. Lucas Callaghan of the 87th Quartermaster Detachment, Okinawa, inpsects the contents of an ambulance prior to its shipment to Sri Lanka. More than $1.6 million in hospital supplies and vehicles are being shipped to the war-torn island nation. (Chip Steitz/Courtesy U.S. Army)

(From left) Kaoru Teruya, from U.S. Army Garrison, Torii Station on Okinawa, along with Spc. Lucas Callaghan and Sgt. Jesse Burk, both from the 87th Quartermaster Detachment, fix wooden braces on one of 26 containers destined for Sri Lanka.

(From left) Kaoru Teruya, from U.S. Army Garrison, Torii Station on Okinawa, along with Spc. Lucas Callaghan and Sgt. Jesse Burk, both from the 87th Quartermaster Detachment, fix wooden braces on one of 26 containers destined for Sri Lanka. (Chip Steitz/Courtesy U.S. Army)

TORII STATION, Okinawa — The Army garrison here has responded to cries for help from Sri Lanka, which has been torn apart by a bloody civil war.

In response to reports that some hospitals in the island nation were destroyed in recent fighting, soldiers with the 87th Quartermaster Detachment joined with Japanese warehouse workers from the garrison to load 26 containers of health care, nutritional supplies and vehicles for shipment to Sri Lanka.

According to Chip Steitz, public information officer for the Army on Okinawa, the supplies had been stored in a warehouse on Camp Kinser to be sold under the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Office program.

"They spent four days loading 26 containers filled with $1.6 million in supplies," Steitz said Thursday. "Included in the relief package were four vehicles and one ambulance."

The medical supplies include salvaged surgical beds and new first aid items, such as bandages.

Steitz said the soldiers and Japanese workers were enthusiastic about participating in the humanitarian effort.

"This truly represents one of the reasons I joined the military," Sgt. Jesse Burk said in a news release. "Our country is blessed with ordinary people who do extraordinary activities."

Last month, the U.S. State Department told the Army that the Sri Lankan government could use whatever medical supplies it could round up in the wake of intense fighting in the country’s north, Steitz said.

"When they heard Sri Lanka had been torn apart by internal conflicts and most of the hospitals were destroyed during the fighting, the garrison pulled together to find a way to help," he said.

The containers were to be trucked to the Naha Military Port by convoy Friday and are scheduled to be shipped to Sri Lanka within a week.

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