Airmen help hundreds in Timor Leste

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Cohen A. Young
  • Defense Media Activity-Hawaii
Thirty-seven Airmen from various medical and engineering units across the Air Force treated more than 300 East Timorese people as part of Operation Pacific Angel 2009 at a local school here July 16.

Pacific Angel is a Pacific Air Forces humanitarian assistance operation aimed at improving military civic cooperation between the United States and other Asia-Pacific area nations, and led by 13th Air Force officials at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii. 

Two Pacific Angel events are currently on-going through July 24 -- one here and another in Indonesia. A second Pacific Angel 2009 iteration will take place in Vietnam Sept. 12 through 25.

The East Timorese patients had their vitals checked before receiving free optometry and primary medical care from a combined team of U.S. and East Timorese officials. Capt. Joni Scott-Weideman, a native of Tallahassee, Fla., is an optometrist deployed here as part of Pacific Angel.

"We saw 146 Timorese in all, while primary care saw 168 people," said Captain Scott-Weideman, who is assigned to the 622nd Aeromedical Staging Squadron at Robins AFB, Ga.

There were many ailments to be treated by the physicians and medical technicians. Even though every problem might not have been cured on site, the East Timorese people were appreciative of the treatment, said Senior Airman Ashley Cope a labor and delivery technician assigned to the 3rd Medical Group at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska.

"It was sad and heartbreaking to see kids that needed help, but they and their parents we so grateful for the help they did get," Airman Cope said.

This is the second time Airman Cope has participated in a humanitarian event like Pacific Angel, she said.

"I get a good feeling from the help that we can provide when we do operations like this," she said.

Timorese and U.S. medical professionals are working together to provide health assessments and eye examinations, as well as techniques to prevent health problems before they happen, to local residents. Engineering civic assistance activities are also planned.