for diseases and contaminants to ensure the safety of aid workers and displaced local residents. The teams helped identify and treat contaminated wells, killed flies and mosquitoes in large areas, and trapped and removed rats from displaced-persons camps.
We know that we touched many, many people more than 50,000 directly, with a larger lasting impact with efforts of the preventive medicine unit
and the friends that we made, Navy Capt. Dave Llewellyn, Mercy commander, said as the ship was transiting home.
Navy oceanographers conducted safety and navigation surveys of the ocean and coastlines in the region. The tsunami wiped out tons of shoreline, said Forrest Noll, a scientist with the Naval Oceanographic Office in Stennis, Miss. It changed the landscape drastically.
In a more colorful description of the devastation, Navy Petty Officer 1st Class David Loiselle said, It looked like somebody had just taken a giant Weedwacker to the entire coast.
Loiselle, an aviation warfare systems operator aboard the Lincoln , said the relief work was one of his most rewarding experiences. My single biggest gratitude is rescuing people, he said. I'd much rather do that than (be) shooting people.
Other military support included:
USS Fort McHenry, a dock landing ship that left Sasebo , Japan , Jan. 2, delivered more than 1.2 million pounds of water, food items and clothes. Fort McHenry also delivered more than 2,000 pounds of supplies personally collected by communities within Fleet Activities Sasebo.
Hundreds of Marine Corps engineers and Navy Seabees helped Sri Lankans repair infrastructure and clear debris. Some debris cleared from the island was used to reconstruct a sea wall.
Army engineers deployed to Thailand to help rebuild roads, bridges and power infrastructure.
Several teams of military forensics experts, including anthropologists, dentists and mortuary affairs specialists, helped manage the overwhelming numbers of bodies.
Officials estimate roughly 300,000 people died in the disaster, and more than 1.1 million people were displaced. The statistics regarding U.S. relief efforts are also staggering. According to U.S. Pacific Command information, U.S. military flights in the region included:
About 70 reconnaissance-assessment flights, resulting in roughly 570 hours flying time;
More than 1,300 fixed-wing aircraft flights, resulting in more than 4,635 hours flying time; and
More than 2,200 helicopter flights, resulting in more than 4,870 hours flying time.
In all, U.S. Pacific Command assets delivered or coordinated delivery of more than 24 million pounds of relief supplies and equipment into the region by Feb. 14, when Combined Support Force 536 ceased operations.