News: Philippine, US servicemembers work together, distribute relief supplies
Story by Sgt. Anthony Kirby
VILLAMOR, Philippines - The scope of devastation left in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan weighs heavily on the Philippine people. Equally strong, however, is the resolve of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and U.S. military to help carry the burden of those in need.
Philippine Armed Forces and U.S. service members are working tirelessly night and day to support Operation Damayan at Villamor Air Base in Luzon, Philippines.
Typhoon Haiyan, which slammed into the Philippines, Nov. 7, has left hundreds of thousands of people without food or a place to call home. The damage is extensive, spanning 36 provinces.
The Philippine and U.S. military have pooled their resources to take the critical steps in what will be a long road to recovery.
They waste no time unloading relief supplies arriving to the base by myriad aircraft, hoisting up hundreds of bags weighing 70-110 pounds each.
“These guys are really reliable hard workers,” said Lance Cpl. Allan L. Randall, a landing support specialist with Combat Logistics Battalion 4, currently assigned to 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade in support of Joint task Force 505. “No matter what time of the day it is, when we need help they have our backs.”
The bags contain various items such as personal hygiene products, clothes and enough food to feed a family of six.
Teams place each bag one by one into piles. Afterward, they sort the bags according to what type of supplies they contain. Finally, the teams lift the bags onto pallets to prepare them for transport.
“Because of our continued combined work, more people have been able to receive help than when we first started this operation,” said Philippine Air Force Maj. Diego A. Pilar, director for civil military operations. “You can sense a resemblance of ‘bayanihan,’ which is a common Philippine term meaning ‘wanting to help.’”
Even local victims of the typhoon have been volunteering to assist with the workload. The helping spirit of everyone involved has been crucial to the mission at hand.
“I enjoy seeing everyone come together for something good like this,” said Lance Cpl. Elijah L. Gates, a heavy equipment operator with the battalion. “I’m happy to be here supporting the mission with these guys.”