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Liberia Evacuation Ends, Security Guard Remains

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 25, 1996 – While most of the U.S. service members who helped evacuate Americans from Liberia head back to bases in Europe, about 200 will stay to protect the embassy in Monrovia, DoD officials said.

U.S. forces safely evacuated more than 2,100 people, including 435 Americans, from Liberia after civil war erupted in the West African nation in early April, officials said. During about a week-long airlift, nine Navy helicopters flew 83 sorties carrying civilians from the war-torn capital to neighboring Freetown, Sierra Leone.

No American was injured during any phase of the operation, said Lt. Gen. Howell M. Estes III, operations director for the Joint Staff, at a Pentagon briefing. U.S. helicopters ferried out people from 73 countries, he said. About 50 Americans in Liberia when fighting broke out chose to remain, Estes said.

About 1,400 Europe-based U.S. service members were involved in the operation, Assured Response. Initially, a 20-man assessment team and about 180 additional security forces were sent in to supplement the Marine Corps guard protecting the embassy, Estes said. More forces were then positioned in the area for the evacuation. U.S. forces also airlifted food and water to the embassy during the uprising.

About 200 troops, primarily from the Armys 325th Airborne Battalion Combat Team in Vicenza, Italy, will stay in Liberia to provide security for the 18 embassy staff remaining.

"The forces at the embassy need to remain there to provide adequate security until the situation resolves itself one way or the other," Estes said. The soldiers were relieved by U.S. Marines from a five-ship, 1,400-man amphibious ready group led by the USS Guam, which reached Liberia the weekend of April 20.

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageEvacuees from neighboring Liberia await air transportation from Freetown, Sierra Leone, to safety in Dakar, Senegal. The Freetown airport is the passenger transfer area for Operation Assured Response, the DoD mission evacuating U.S. and foreign citizens from coup-torn Liberia. Senior Airman Richard M. Heileman, USAF 2  
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