ABOARD USS KEARSARGE --
Members of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) (Special Operations Capable), embarked aboard USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), delivered needed medical supplies to cyclone victims in Bangladesh Nov. 26.
“Today, we moved close to 12,000 lbs. of medical supplies, food and water to a local hospital in the southern region of Bangladesh,” said Cpl. Gary E. Straws, a Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron (HMM) 261 CH-53E Super Stallion flight line mechanic. “Helping people out is one of our callings for this mission that we’re a part of, and I love what I do.”
Straws was a crewman on the Nov. 26 mission, which brought medical supplies and a U.S. military medical team to one of Tropical Cyclone Sidr’s hardest hit areas, Patuakhali.
“There were well over a thousand people,” said Straws of the throng of people awaiting their arrival. “People were waving everywhere, all excited and wanting to see what was going on.”
The two Super Stallions were carrying a cargo of food, water, medicine, and an 18-man U.S. Army and Air Force medical team.
“We’ve been anxious to get out there and do some good,” said Army Lt. Col. Anne L. Naclerio, Chief Medical Officer of the medical team from Tripler Army Medical Center, Hawaii. “We were happy to see the (helicopters) coming in today.”
The team had been in Dhaka for eight days, said Naclerio. During that time, they had been working earnestly to procure the supplies to bring relief to the citizens of Bangladesh.
“In devastation like this, the main problem is a lack of potable water and a compromised food supply,” said Naclerio. “So, you’ve got an undernourished population who now has a high risk of diarrheal diseases, since their immune systems are already susceptible.”
To combat the spread of infectious disease, the team packed an international emergency kit based on the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, said Naclerio.
“We’re well supplied as far as meds go,” said Naclerio. “We also have two family practitioners, a cadre of medical techs, a veterinarian, a vet tech, a dentist, and a dental tech. We have all our bases covered.”
The 22nd MEU (SOC), along with Kearsarge, has been providing humanitarian aid and disaster relief in response to the Government of Bangladesh’s request for assistance after Tropical Cyclone Sidr made landfall on Nov. 15. The US military support was requested Nov. 23 from the Bangladeshi government.
The 22nd MEU (SOC) is composed of it Aviation Combat Element, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron (HMM) 261; Ground Combat Element, Battalion Landing Team, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment; Logistics Combat Element, Combat Logistics Battalion 22; and its Command Element. To learn more, visit the unit’s Web site at www.22meu.usmc.mil.