FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- Air Force Gen. Douglas M. Fraser, commander, U.S. Southern Command, presented the Joint Meritorious Unit Award to members of U.S. Army South Jan. 20, for their service as part of Joint Task Force-Haiti, in support of Operation Unified Response.

"I feel honored to have the opportunity of presenting this fine organization with this prestigious award," Fraser said.

"This award recognizes the high level of professionalism and dedication displayed by the Soldiers and civilians within U.S. Army South."

The Joint Meritorious Unit award is awarded by the Secretary of Defense to joint activities for meritorious achievement or service, superior to that which is normally expected, for actions in the following situations: combat with an armed enemy of the United States, a declared national emergency, or under extraordinary circumstances that involve national interests.

The award highlights Army South's exceptional performance in support of Operation Unified Response as part of Joint Task Force-Haiti following the devastating magnitude 7.0 earthquake that destroyed vast areas of the capital and left over two million people homeless on Jan. 12, 2010.

From its onset, Joint Task Force-Haiti established command and control over military assets, integrated efforts with the United States Agency for International Development, the United States' lead federal agency, and supported various non-governmental organizations in order to mitigate suffering and save lives.

Under Army South's leadership, the task force provided relief support in the form of shelter and engineering projects, while international partners took over responsibility for food and water distribution.

The efforts of Joint Task Force-Haiti contributed immensely to international relief efforts in the largest disaster response mission in modern U.S. military history.

The ability of the command to orchestrate its efforts with numerous international relief agencies provided balance and efficiency in all aspects of its missions.

The actions and accomplishments of the task force units under the seamless control of the headquarters relieved suffering and saved lives in a country reeling from the destruction created by the devastating earthquake.

"The work that Army South does day in and day out with our partner nations in the region had a significant impact on how all of the agencies cooperated to provide relief and assistance to the people of Haiti," Fraser said.

"Every person who took part in the operation should take personal pride in what they were able to accomplish."

Fraser also presented the Armed Forces Service Medal and Armed Forces Civilian Service Medal to those Army South Soldiers and civilian employees who participated in Operation Unified Response. Maj. Brian Pedersen, Sgt. William Valentine, Spc. Pedro Ayala, and Mr. Manuel Ochoa represented the members of Army South when the awards were presented.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16