News: Red Falcons return to Jammeau, build trust
Story by Sgt. Kissta DiGregorio
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Citizens of the town of Jammeau, Haiti, filed past a U.S. Army Light Medium Tactical Vehicle, carrying boxes full of water and food. The smallest of the locals, unable to hold all of their rations in their arms, carried them in their shirts.
These rations, high-energy biscuits and bottled water, were being distributed by paratroopers assigned to Team D, 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, a culmination of Soldiers from different companies in the battalion.
Earlier this week, paratroopers met with leaders of Jammeau to establish good relations with the town, said 1st Sgt. Brian Knight, first sergeant of D Company, 1/325th AIR, "Red Falcons."
Prior to this particular humanitarian aid distribution, they spent several days conducting reconnaissance around the area trying to find places affected by the earthquake, said Spc. Austin Ibarra of Team D.
This was the second humanitarian aid distribution the Red Falcons conducted for the town. This drop was more successful than the last, said Knight, due to the number of people present. Word spread quickly through the small town, made clear by the amount of people using their cell phones while waiting in line for food, he said.
The organization of this distribution was obvious as the townspeople stood in single file line with their children. Ten at a time, the locals approached the LMTV. Each was given an armful of high-energy biscuits and a 1.5 liter bottle of water for every two people. However, once everyone in the town had cycled through, they were able to come back for seconds or even thirds.
Ten thousand biscuits were given out as well as 500 bottles of water, which will feed 500 people for four-and-a-half days, said Lt. Ben Wackerlin, a platoon leader with Team D.
Although the biscuits are a source of food for the locals, they still need the staples of their regular diet, said Knight. Within a few days the Red Falcons will provide 80 pound bags containing rice, beans and cooking oil, and will feed a family of five for two weeks. This allows the people to concentrate on other essential tasks, such as searching for work, rather than waiting in line for food every day.
When the rations ran out for the day, the Soldiers promised the locals they would be back soon with more. It is important to stay consistent, building rapport with the locals so they know they can trust the Soldiers, said Knight.
"This was us saying we didn't forget about them," he said.