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    Here to Help: JTF Matthew Provides Assistance for Hurricane Matthew Victims in Haiti

    JTF Matthew delivers supplies to those affected by Hurricane Matthew

    Photo By Sgt. Samuel Guerra | U.S. Marine Gunnery Sgt. Damian Henry, the engineer chief with Marine Wing Support...... read more read more



    Story by Cpl. Samuel Guerra 

    U.S. Marine Corps Forces, South

    When Hurricane Matthew struck the Caribbean nation of Haiti on Oct. 4, it was the first Category 4 storm to make landfall on the small island since 1964. Farmland was ruined, roads and bridges were destroyed, and thousands of people were left homeless when wind and rain traveling more than 150 miles per hour devastated the country.

    Knowing the effects of the storm would likely be severe, U.S. Southern Command readied several units to respond as soon as the hurricane had passed. Because they were pre-staged, the first U.S. forces, part of what would come to be known as Joint Task Force Matthew, arrived in Haiti Oct. 5, the day after the storm hit.

    JTF Matthew is now comprised of more than 400 Marines, soldiers, sailors and airmen supporting the U.S. Agency for International Development’s disaster relief operations in Haiti during the critical early stages after the island nation was struck by Hurricane Matthew.

    One of the units deployed in support of JTF Matthew is Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force - Southern Command. These Marines and sailors have been deployed to Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, since June, and were able to rapidly organize and respond to Haiti in support of the disaster relief efforts.

    “We have been delivering 11,000 pounds (daily) of our supplies to the far southwestern corner of Haiti,” said U.S. Marine Capt. Brad B. Maa, a CH-53E Super Stallion pilot with SPMAGTF-SC. “(Our supplies) consist of food, water purification and hygiene kits to assist the victims of Hurricane Matthew.”

    Throughout the relief operation, JTF Matthew service members utilized two CH-53E Super Stallion, three CH-47 Chinooks and four UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters to transport resources to designated landing zones, through coordination with USAID. Without them, the affected areas would have been unreachable. When Marines with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit and the USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) arrived Oct. 12, they brought an additional four MV-22B Ospreys, three CH-53E Super Stallions, and four SH-60B Seahawks to support the mission.

    “Our goal is to meet three runs a day per aircraft to supply the locals with as much material as we can,” said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Jim Burley, a flight engineer with Joint Task Force-Bravo's 1st Battalion, 228th Aviation Regiment, which has soldiers and aircraft deployed in support of JTF Matthew. “Supplying the victims with materials they need has been both a rewarding and humbling experience.”

    As of Oct. 15, the service members of JTF Matthew have delivered more than 478,000 pounds of food and supplies to the people of Haiti. They've proven to themselves that working diligently and as a team are essential for completing the mission.

    “I’ve learned that all of the services can come together as one and assist others in times of need and disasters,” said U.S. Marine Cpl. Christian Tabarquino, a civil affairs non-commissioned officer with the SPMAGTF-SC. “We all [contributed] to the same mission effectively, and it has been really great seeing us unite for a good cause.”

    Service members with JTF Matthew spent countless hours to successfully deliver much needed supplies to those in need. The U.S. effort, led by USAID, with the DoD and U.S. Coast Guard in support, along with the government of Haiti as well as international and local organizations, continues to deliver aid to those impacted by the disaster.

    Many of those in uniform commented that they would not want to be doing anything else than helping the victims of Hurricane Matthew. The gratitude from those affected in Haiti reflected this positive attitude.

    “I simply want to thank [the JTF] for their excellent work of your organization and share with you the significant impact your efforts are making in the field,” said Austin Holmes, the director of development for the Mission of Hope in Haiti. “We are honored to have served with you, and deeply grateful for the character, professionalism, and tireless work of your team in the life-saving response to Hurricane Matthew.”



    Date Taken: 10.15.2016
    Date Posted: 10.15.2016 14:29
    Story ID: 212106
    Location: PORT-AU-PRINCE, HT 

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