Kadena Air Base Supports Philippines Relief Effort
By Air Force Senior Airman Maeson L. Elleman
KADENA AIR BASE, Japan, Nov. 16, 2013 U.S. military members here are assisting efforts to deliver aid to the Philippines following the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan.
Airmen from the 733rd Air Mobility Squadron load supplies onto a C-17 Globemaster III from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, on Kadena Air Base, Japan, Nov. 15, 2013. Water purifiers and U.S. military personnel are being sent to the Philippines to help its people after the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Marcus Morris
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Under Operation Damayan, Kadena airmen received and supported a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft from the 15th Wing at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, which transported a U.S. Marine Corps water purification unit to Tacloban Nov. 14.
The next day, Kadena supported a similar mission which, in addition to transporting a second water purification unit to the Philippines, also sent several service members downrange.
"We are just a small part of what's going to be going on down there," said Air Force Staff Sgt. Christopher Fleary, the 733rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron’s air freight supervisor. "We're doing everything we can to help out."
The water purifiers should provide the Philippine people with a means of staying hydrated -- as well as to provide water for bathing and sanitation in order to keep diseases at bay.
"Down in the Philippines, they're really hurting for clean water," Flearly said. "Sending these water purifiers is going to be a big relief for them. Hopefully, they can be used to help the local population get back on their feet. We're just here to support the humanitarian mission in any way we can."
As of Nov. 14, Operation Damayan has transported 623,000 pounds of relief supplies to Tacloban and transported 2,900 displaced people from the city to Manila, on the return legs of its flights.
There are currently more than 600 U.S. service members on the ground in the Philippines, and the USS George Washington Strike Group has more than 6,200 sailors supporting air operations. An additional 1,000 Marines and sailors with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit are expected to arrive in approximately five days.
The 55 metric tons of U.S. Agency for International Development-provided emergency food products will feed 20,000 children under the age of five and 15,000 adults for five days. The 1,020 metric tons of USAID-provided rice can help feed 60,000 for one month. The 10,080 hygiene kits will supply 10,080 families, and the 1,000 rolls of plastic sheeting will aid 10,000 families.
On the 14th alone, U.S. military planes flew 46 flights which ferried nearly 65 tons of relief supplies and moved 833 displaced persons and 44 aid workers.
In addition to U.S.-provided supplies, U.S. military flights have transported goods from the Philippine Department of Social Welfare and Development, the United Nations, and nongovernmental organizations. Day and night operations are ongoing at Tacloban.
"Our hearts go out to the Filipino people, as well as their friends and families living around the world," said Air Force Brig. Gen. James B. Hecker, the 18th Wing’s commander. "This is a multi-service, multi-government operation with our allies in the Philippines to bring aid to those most in need. Kadena is a forward-deployed base in a unique location. We're always ready to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to our partners in the Asia-Pacific region."
According to Marine Corps Col. John Armellino assigned to Joint Task Force 505, all branches of the U.S. military are sending forces to aid in the relief efforts. JTF 505, which will coordinate the Defense Department’s relief efforts in the Philippines, is commanded by Marine Corps Lt. Gen. John E. Wissler.
U.S. Pacific Command “has determined that the relief effort needs a [joint task force] to lead it, so the remainder of the JTF will then form around the nucleus of III Marine Expeditionary Force as it becomes Joint Task Force 505," Armellino said. "There is a significant naval presence, there's Air Force, already Marines -- the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade is already on the ground -- there're U.S. Army forces that are also en route to the Philippines now.”
The JTF “will command and control the efforts of the joint force into a cohesive response in order to provide rapid relief to the people of the Philippines," he added.
As of Nov. 15, the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council reported that Typhoon Haiyan had caused 3,631 deaths and injured 12,487 people. And 1,179 people are missing. The devastation has impacted more than 9 million people and damaged or destroyed approximately 273,375 houses, as well as public infrastructure and agricultural land, across 44 provinces in the Philippines.
The government of the Philippines and humanitarian partners expect the confirmed death toll and damage reports to increase in the coming days as transportation and communication systems are restored, and as more information becomes available.