WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Oct. 10, 2006) - When a 7.6 magnitude earthquake devastated northern Pakistan last October, Soldiers from the 212th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital rushed its 84-bed hospital to the scene.

For treating more than 20 thousand patients and providing about 20 thousand vaccinations to about 8,000 patients, the unit was recently presented the Sitar-i-Eisaar Medal, or Star of Sacrifice, by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.

"You have done tremendous service for us and we are very grateful," Musharraf said during a ceremony honoring military supporters at the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, D.C., Sept. 22.

The 212th MASH's medical relief efforts began Oct. 29 in Muzaffarabad, the quake's epicenter. At the height of military operations that were dubbed Operation Lifeline, more than 1,200 troops and 25 helicopters were on the grounds. The helicopters provided transportation, logistics, medical and engineering support.

The 123rd Main Support Battalion in Dexheim, Germany, also contributed to Operation Lifeline.

Last February, the 212th MASH - which is the last unit of its kind in the U.S. Army and is to become a Combat Support Hospital this month at Miesau Army Depot, Germany - donated its entire mobile hospital to the Pakistan government for continued use in earthquake efforts.

The MASH is worth $4.6 million and includes two operating tables, four wards, a power station, pharmacy, lab and radiology section. The mobile medical units, made famous by the TV comedy, M*A*S*H, have been replaced with smaller, more efficient models.

Still providing relief

Petroleum specialists such as Cpl. Charlette Henager are still in Pakistan for Operation Promise Keeping, assisting helicopter aircrews delivering supplies to rebuild northern Pakistan. Henager said it was important for her and fellow Soldiers to return to Pakistan.

"It's great because we get to see the impact that we're having," Henager said. "We see what we're supporting and every time a Chinook takes off with a load of supplies, we know we had a hand in that."

The earthquake killed more than 70 thousand citizens, injured more than 60 thousand and left more than 3 million homeless.

(Editor's note: Includes information from stories by Sgt. Sara Wood and Senior Airman J.G. Buzanowski.)