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U.S. Military Task Force Aids Humanitarian Efforts in Haiti

By Terri Moon Cronk

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U.S. military personnel, ships, aircraft and humanitarian relief supplies arrived in Haiti over the weekend in support of the small island-nation after it was hard hit by Hurricane Matthew’s wrath Oct. 4, Pentagon director of press operations Navy Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters today.

U.S. Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter pilots with Company A, 1st Battalion, 228th Aviation Regiment, deployed in support of Joint Task Force Matthew, fly toward Jeremie, Haiti, Oct. 10, 2016. JTF Matthew, a U.S. Southern Command-directed team, is comprised of Marines with Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force – Southern Command and soldiers from Joint Task Force-Bravo’s 1st Battalion, 228th Aviation Regiment, and is deployed to Port-au-Prince at the request of the Government of Haiti on a mission to provide humanitarian and disaster relief assistance in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.
An Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter flies toward a supply distribution point in Jeremie, Haiti, Oct. 10, 2016. The helicopter crew is assigned to Joint Task Force Bravo’s 1st Battalion, 228th Aviation Regiment, and deployed in support of Joint Task Force Matthew. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Kimberly Aguirre
U.S. Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter pilots with Company A, 1st Battalion, 228th Aviation Regiment, deployed in support of Joint Task Force Matthew, fly toward Jeremie, Haiti, Oct. 10, 2016. JTF Matthew, a U.S. Southern Command-directed team, is comprised of Marines with Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force – Southern Command and soldiers from Joint Task Force-Bravo’s 1st Battalion, 228th Aviation Regiment, and is deployed to Port-au-Prince at the request of the Government of Haiti on a mission to provide humanitarian and disaster relief assistance in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.
Service members fly to areas affected by Hurricane Matthew
An Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter flies toward a supply distribution point in Jeremie, Haiti, Oct. 10, 2016. The helicopter crew is assigned to Joint Task Force Bravo’s 1st Battalion, 228th Aviation Regiment, and deployed in support of Joint Task Force Matthew. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Kimberly Aguirre

More than 1,700 sailors and 700 Marines are supporting humanitarian efforts in Haiti in addition to aircraft such as MV-22 Ospreys, helicopters such as CH-47 Chinooks and UH-60 Black Hawks, and landing craft utility boats, Davis noted.

“We now have 12 helicopters [and] 300 military personnel on the ground, and have delivered 90 tons of relief supplies so far -- 50 tons yesterday alone,” he said.

U.S. Southern Command stood up Joint Task Force Matthew on Oct. 5 to transport humanitarian relief supplies such as food, shelter and safe drinking water for what the United Nations estimated to be 1.4 million Haitian citizens in need, according to a Defense Department official who said the hardest-hit communities are along Haiti’s southwestern peninsula in the Sud and Grand‘Anse regions.

Joint Task Force Matthew is delivering relief supplies to areas cut off by Hurricane Matthew, conducting aerial assessments to evaluate road and landing zone conditions throughout the country and supporting airfield operations, the official said.

Equipment Transferred At Sea

The amphibious ship USS Iwo Jima performed an at-sea transfer of equipment and service members yesterday with the aircraft carrier USS George Washington, Davis said, adding that the Washington had been standing by in the Bahamas to provide support to Haiti as needed since it left port in Norfolk last week.

“More than 150 Marines, four MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft and other equipment were transferred at sea between the two ships,” Davis said.

“The Iwo Jima will continue on to Haiti and provide a very robust port package to help with the joint task force mission that [also] includes the USS Mesa Verde, which arrived [Oct. 9],” he said.

National Guard on Duty in Southern U.S.

In the United States, National Guard service members continued to provide support to states affected by Hurricane Matthew during the weekend, primarily flood support in North Carolina and South Carolina, he said.

“We’re seeing about 8,000 guardsmen still on state active duty working for their governors,” Davis said. “We expect them to downsize somewhat in Georgia and Florida, while remaining very much on duty in the Carolinas for flood recovery duty.”

(Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkDoD)

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