Falcons conduct humanitarian assistance for October training mission
By Pfc. Kissta M. Feldner, 2nd BCT, 82D ABN DIV PAOOctober 30, 2009
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - A large crowd of people gathered at the edge of town, yelling and waving their arms at the oncoming forces. From a distance, the group may have looked hostile. However, the citizens were welcoming soldiers into their city, knowing that help had arrived.
"I've done quite a few humanitarian assistance missions before," said Sgt. First Class Daniel Noble, a treatment platoon sergeant with C Co., 407th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, "but this is a worst-case scenario."
For this mission, the citizens of the fictional country North Keelung were without food, water and medical supplies, as well as an adequate place to give medical attention to their injured.
Paratroopers with 2nd BCT came to North Keelung on Oct. 29 as part of October's Joint Forcible Entry Exercise to provide temporary relief for the citizens as well as increase the locals' support for the United States.
Sgt. First Class Dustin Sinkes, the civil affairs non-commissioned officer in charge for Headquarters Company, 2nd BCT, and a native of Saginaw, Michigan, was the first Paratrooper to reach the crowd of villagers.
The citizens were happy that the soldiers brought food and water, as well as medics to treat the wounded, Sinkes said. Due to the excitement of the crowd, the soldiers had to hold the people back until they were ready to organize them, he said.
To instill order in the group, the injured were taken to the hospital while others began to collect their rations.
The citizens filled cups with water from a tank hooked to the back of a military vehicle, and carried away boxes of Meals Ready to Eat. As they opened the boxes, they smiled and passed the meals around, happy to finally have food.
At the same time, medics were seeing patients at what was left of the town's hospital. Spc. Joanna Williams of C Co., 407th BSB, a native of Tucson, Arizona, treated many different injuries including a knee injury, a belly wound and a missing eye.
Sinkes and Noble both spoke with the English-speaking citizens to find out what the soldiers could do to help the town reconstruct itself.
"The idea is to find out what North Keelung needs to do to unify the country and the medical capabilities to sustain 10,000 people and ensure the hospital can be opened," Noble said.
While giving handouts may help the people now, it's what they do for themselves that will build them up in the long run, he said.
The greatest way to help the people of North Keelung is to give them the ability to take care of themselves and to see the faces of their own people rebuilding their country, he said.