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PACANGEL efforts end in Papua New Guinea

Lt. Col. Weilun Hsu, the 374th Aerospace Medicine Squadron optometry flight commander from Yokota Air Base, Japan, determines which glasses to prescribe a local during Pacific Angel 15-4 at Unggai Primary School in Papua New Guinea, June 1, 2015. The optometrists prescribed more than 200 glasses, allowing the locals to walk away seeing better than before. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Marcus Morris)

Lt. Col. Weilun Hsu, the 374th Aerospace Medicine Squadron optometry flight commander from Yokota Air Base, Japan, determines which glasses to prescribe a local during Pacific Angel 15-4 at Unggai Primary School in Papua New Guinea, June 1, 2015. The optometrists prescribed more than 200 glasses, allowing the locals to walk away seeing better than before. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Marcus Morris)

Staff Sgt. John Garcia, a 36th Medical Operations Squadron paramedic, from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, works with a Papua New Guinea nursing student to check a patient’s vitals during Pacific Angel 15-4 inPapua New Guinea, May 31, 2015. PACANGEL is an annual joint humanitarian assistance mission that is designed to bring humanitarian civic assistance and combined civil-military operations to the Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Marcus Morris)

Staff Sgt. John Garcia, a 36th Medical Operations Squadron paramedic, from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, works with a Papua New Guinea nursing student to check a patient’s vitals during Pacific Angel 15-4 inPapua New Guinea, May 31, 2015. PACANGEL is an annual joint humanitarian assistance mission that is designed to bring humanitarian civic assistance and combined civil-military operations to the Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Marcus Morris)

Lt. Col. Jeffrey Freeland, the Pacific Air Forces chief of aerospace medicine from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, removes a fatty tumor from a local man’s head while medical professionals from Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and the U.S. Air National Guard assist during Pacific Angel 15-4 at Unggai Primary School in Papua New Guinea, June 1, 2015. The medical team treated 514 patients by the end of their first day and reached a total of 2,000 patients treated in their three-day stay at their first health services outreach location. The mission of PACANGEL is to upgrade education and health facilities in the area, as well as, work to deepen local disaster response capabilities. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Marcus Morris)

Lt. Col. Jeffrey Freeland, the Pacific Air Forces chief of aerospace medicine from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, removes a fatty tumor from a local man’s head while medical professionals from Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and the U.S. Air National Guard assist during Pacific Angel 15-4 at Unggai Primary School in Papua New Guinea, June 1, 2015. The medical team treated 514 patients by the end of their first day and reached a total of 2,000 patients treated in their three-day stay at their first health services outreach location. The mission of PACANGEL is to upgrade education and health facilities in the area, as well as, work to deepen local disaster response capabilities. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Marcus Morris)

GOROKA, Papua New Guinea (AFNS) -- Pacific Angel 15-4 officially ended June 8 after seven days of civic assistance projects that provided medical care for 3,859 patients, refurbished three schools for 3,000 students and helped two local hospitals overhaul their ability to respond to emergencies.

The Papua New Guinea Defence Force, Royal Australian Air Force, and people from the Philippines, Indonesia and New Zealand worked side by side with 56 U.S. Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines during the operation.

Julie Soso, the Eastern Highlands Province governor, expressed her appreciation for the PACANGEL humanitarian efforts in her region.

"I'd like to acknowledge the participants of Pacific Angel 15-4 who are here; you have been a great friend for the people in the Eastern Highlands these last eight days," Soso said. "I would like to, on behalf of the people of the Eastern Highlands, take this time to thank the Pacific Angels for giving to the health centers and for the improvements you have done to our schools. With your presence here, we know America is with us."

The city of Goroka honored the hard work the combined PACANGEL team provided by hosting a closing ceremony. At the ceremony, Asaro Mudmen dancers, local "sing-sing" choruses and drummers led the distinguished visitors onto the stage in the style of a traditional Melanesian guests of honor.

Ambassador Walter North, U.S. ambassador to Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, noted the significance of U.S. disaster response and medical efforts reaching the remote highland districts of the country for the first time.

The president sent his best wishes to all of those who helped the PACAGNELs accomplish their work in Papua New Guinea, he added.

Over the past week, the team of Pacific nations partnered with military and civilian medical professionals to provide general health, pediatrics physical therapy, dental and optometry services to the people of Papua New Guinea. The team also made a host of electrical and structural improvements to local schools coping with a recent surge in education efforts and new student enrollment in the country.

"These projects are visible as an expression of the United States' commitment to the Asian-Pacific region and demonstrate our continuing resolve to support international disaster and humanitarian relief efforts in this region," said Brig. Gen. William Burks, the Nevada National Guard adjutant general.

Burks also said PACANGEL events are the cornerstone of Pacific Air Forces, by helping those in need and allowing interoperability with likeminded military and civilians in the region.

"Through Pacific Angel we have reinforced the existing partnerships, and we'll create new friendships to ensure a more peaceful and prosperous Asian-Pacific region," he said. "Without a doubt, your achievements here today and over the past weeks have positively impacted the people in Goroka, and by working together now, we are ensuring a more rapid and integrated response to the next natural disaster or humanitarian assistance crisis."

PACAGNEL is a joint and combined humanitarian assistance operation conducted in the Pacific area of responsibility to support U.S. Pacific Command's capacity building efforts. The humanitarian and civic assistance program is aimed at improving military-civilian cooperation between the U.S. and Pacific partners.

The next PACANGEL will take place in the Philippines in August.

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