By Senior Airman Maeson L. Elleman, 18th Wing Public Affairs
/ Published November 16, 2013
KADENA AIR BASE, Japan (AFNS) -- Following the devastation throughout the Philippines, due to Super Typhoon Haiyan, which hit six central islands Nov. 8, Kadena Air Base has joined the U.S. Pacific Command in the effort to deliver aid to the country.
Under Operation Damayan, Kadena Airmen received and supported a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft from the 15th Wing, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, which transported a U.S. Marine Corps water purification unit to Tacloban Nov. 14.
The next day, Kadena AB supported a similar mission which, in addition to transporting a second water purification unit to the Philippines, also sent several service members downrange.
"We are just a small part of what's going to be going on down there," said Staff Sgt. Christopher Fleary, a 733rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron air freight supervisor. "We're doing everything we can to help out. There's going to be multiple chalks and aircraft that are going to be going out. Hopefully everything else gets out on time and we can help these poor people."
The water purifiers should provide the Philippine people with a means of staying hydrated -- as well as provide water for bathing and sanitation in order to keep diseases at bay.
"Down in the Philippines, they're really hurting for clean water," Flearly said. "Sending these water purifiers is going to be a big relief for them. Hopefully, they can be used to help the local population get back on their feet. We're just here to support the humanitarian mission in any way we can."
As of Nov. 14, Operation Damayan has transported 623,000 pounds of relief supplies pounds of relief supplies to Tacloban and transported 2,900 displaced people from the city to Manila, on the return legs of its flights. There are currently more than 600 U.S. service members on the ground in the Philippines; the USS George Washington Strike Group has more than 6,200 Sailors supporting air operations. An additional 1,000 Marines and Sailors with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit are expected to arrive in approximately five days.
The 55 metric tons of U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)-provided emergency food products will feed 20,000 children under age 5 and 15,000 adults for five days; the 1,020 metric tons of USAID-provided rice can help feed 60,000 for one month. The 10,080 hygiene kits will supply 10,080 families, and the 1,000 rolls of plastic sheeting will aid 10,000 families.
On the 14th alone, U.S. military planes flew 46 flights which ferried 64.8 tons of relief supplies and moved 833 displaced persons and 44 aid workers.
In addition to U.S. supplies, U.S. military flights have transported goods from the Philippine Department of Social Welfare and Development, the United Nations, and non-governmental organizations. Day and night operations are ongoing at Tacloban.
"Our hearts go out to the Filipino people, as well as their friends and families living around the world," said Brig. Gen. James B. Hecker, the 18th Wing commander. "This is a multi-service, multi-government operation with our allies in the Philippines to bring aid to those most in need. Kadena is a forward deployed base in a unique location. We're always ready to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to our partners in the Asia-Pacific region."
According to U.S. Marine Corps Col. John Armellino, Joint Task Force 505, all branches of the U.S. military are sending forces to aide in the relief efforts.
"The PACOM (U.S. Pacific Command) commander has determined that the relief effort needs a (joint task force) to lead it, so the remainder of the JTF will then form around the nucleus of III Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) as it becomes Joint Task Force 505," Armellino said. "There is a significant Naval presence, there's Air Force, already Marines - the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade is already on the ground - there're U.S. Army forces that are also in route to the Philippines now. The JTF will command and control the efforts of the joint force into a cohesive response in order to provide rapid relief to the people in the Philippines."
As of Nov. 15, the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council reported that Super Typhoon Haiyan had caused 3,631 deaths, 12,487 injured and 1,179 are still missing. The devastation has affected an more than 9 million people and damaged or destroyed approximately 273,375 houses, as well as public infrastructure and agricultural land, across 44 provinces in the Philippines.
The Government of the Philippines and humanitarian partners expect the confirmed death toll and damage reports to increase in the coming days as transportation and communication systems are restored, and as more information becomes available.