Air Force works with nonprofits to deliver care packages for quarantined troops in South Korea
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OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — Seventh Air Force teamed up with two nonprofit groups Friday to deliver the first of many care packages filled with things like snacks and hygiene kits for quarantined troops transitioning to new assignments in South Korea.
The partnership between the American Red Cross and Operation Gratitude began in July to provide U.S. service members and their families with comfort items as they begin their mandated quarantines. Operation Gratitude was founded in 2003 and has since delivered more than 2.7 million care packages to service members deployed to countries around the world, according to its website.
“In the normal world these items would be going to places like Kunsan Air Base, Camp Casey and Chinhae, where the hardships and single soldiers are at,” Mark Hooper, the Red Cross regional director for South Korea, said Friday. “But since we are doing the quarantine, there is a need, and the hardships are here at Osan, Humphreys and Kunsan.
Two cargo pallets loaded with more than 11,000 items, including coffee, candy bars, Girl Scout cookies and hygiene kits, arrived at Osan after departing from Travis Air Force Base, Calif., aboard a military aircraft provided by 7th Air Force.
“While we are in COVID operations, quarantine is not fun,” said Chief Master Sgt. Brandon Dunston, the 7th Air Force’s logistics, engineering and force protection chief enlisted manager. “It’s 14 days and everybody is trying to come together to make sure all of our components, airmen, soldiers, sailors and Marines are being taken care of.”
COVID-19 is the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.
Since the initial outbreak in the southern city of Daegu, 160 people associated with U.S. Forces Korea have tested positive for the coronavirus, 112 of them active-duty service members.
“As we continue to battle COVID and focus on our number one priority, which is our people, I think we will find creative ways to do that until we go back to whatever the new normal looks like,” Dunston said.
Members of the 51st Fighter Wing’s Logistics Readiness Squadron assisted the Red Cross in separating the supplies to be taken to the quarantine facilities. Most will find their way to Camp Humphreys where the majority of incoming personnel complete the required quarantine period.
“No one can do this alone,” Hooper said. “We could not do this without the help and partnership with all the other people in play with this. A big thank you goes out to those here on Osan; trying to do this without them would be very difficult.”