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Mexican Forces Wind Up Humanitarian Mission

By Capt. Steve Alvarez, USA
American Forces Press Service

KELLY USA, Texas, Sept. 26, 2005 – Not since the 1840s has the Mexican military flown its flag as a deployed military force in the United States, Mexican officials here said today - especially so close to the site of the famed battle of the Alamo where Texas volunteers fought the Mexicans in a bloody daylong clash.

On Sept. 25, the 184-person Mexican army contingent completed its 20-day long mission to provide relief to hurricane victims and relief workers from Katrina and Rita.

In a small ceremony here conducted by the Mexican consulate, the Mexicans ceremonially ended their mission. Now they will break down their camp, pack their equipment, fold their flag and drive back to Mexico.

"Our mission was very successful," Maj. Cesar Nino said. "We had a great rapport with the U.S. military," he said.

Nino, a staff officer on the Mexican task force, said that relief workers and hurricane victims were very grateful for the aid that the Mexicans provided. The Mexicans provided hot meals to evacuees and relief workers, and Mexican medical teams also deployed into local area hospitals to tend to the influx of evacuees who flooded San Antonio area hospitals.

The medical team comprised of three doctors, three dentists, three nurses and three paramedics, conducted 134 medical evaluations, performed 526 medical consultations, provided 363 ambulatory nursing procedures, and medically evacuated 83 personnel during their hurricane relief mission.

"They were very busy here," Nino said as medical teams tore down their tents.

The Mexican Army's field kitchen, a tractor-trailer turned into a kitchen, served 170,000 meals during their deployment here, the former Kelly Air Force Base. They also assisted in the distribution and management of more than 184,000 tons of supplies.

Mexican army Sgt. E. Flores was glad he got the opportunity to serve in the disaster relief effort.

"This was an important thing for us to do," Flores said. "It's historical and we were a part of it."

Nino said many Mexican soldiers have family in the United States. "Some of our soldiers have family right here in San Antonio," Nino said. "So they were able to see their family while also serving here."

The Mexican army will close its camp at Kelly Sept. 27 and convoy home in its reported 45 vehicles.

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageThe Mexican flag flies over the Mexican army's encampment on Kelly USA, former site of Kelly Air Force Base, in San Antonio.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageThe Mexican army's mobile kitchen served 170,000 meals in 20 days from a tractor-trailer setup.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageA Mexican army medic helps break down a tent at Kelly USA in San Antonio on Sept. 26 after a 20-day deployment to help hurricane victims.  
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