News: Joint Force employs humanitarian effort in American Samoa
Story by Staff Sgt. Lucelia Ball
HICKAM AIR FORCE BASE, Hawaii -- Two C-17 Globemaster IIIs departed, Sept. 30, with approximately 100 military personnel to provide humanitarian assistance to the island of American Samoa.
The island was struck, Sept. 29, by an 8.3 magnitude earthquake generating 15-foot waves and destroying whole villages. At least 111 people are reported dead in American Samoa, neighboring Samoa and Tonga.
The operation is a joint military effort shared by personnel from the 735th Air Mobility Squadron; 15th Airlift Wing; 154th Medical Group, Hawaii Air National Guard; and Hawaii National Guard chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high yield explosives Enhanced Response Force (CERF).
"We will provide search and rescue missions, medical triage and treatment, command and control, communications support, damage assessment and hazardous material capability," said Maj. Dave Lowery commander 293rd Combat Communications Squadron, who is the deputy task force commander for the operation.
The assets the group is taking will allow them to sustain operations for the first 96 hours with more to follow as the mission dictates.
Part of the equipment and supplies include cargo vans, trailers, pickup trucks, bottled water, meals ready to eat and medical supplies.
"We are ready for anything out there," said Maj. Lowery. "We want to efficiently and effectively support the impacted areas and ensure our people are safely and properly equipped. Our presence there should reduce the public's anxiety, mitigate any danger and restore critical functions."
U.S. military personnel in the Pacific train routinely for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations and are postured to rapidly deploy around the globe in response to crises across the military spectrum from natural disasters to conflict.
"We won't have a full idea of what we will be facing until we our people get there, but I'm confident they can rely on their training to get the job done," said Lt. Col. David Kashiwamura, Joint Task Force commander.
"As soon as we arrive, we'll integrate with the local military to provide the support where needed," said Lowery. "We're here to help."
American Samoa is a U.S. unorganized, unincorporated territory located in the South Pacific Ocean, southeast of the sovereign state of Samoa, formerly known as Western Samoa. With an estimated population of 57,291, it is the only U.S. possession in the southern hemisphere.