PORT-DE-PAIX, Haiti -- Sunrise to sunset, Marines, sailors, soldiers and airmen spent 10 days in Port-de-Paix, Haiti, lending a helping hand to Haitian citizens, July 24 to Aug. 3.
In addition to service members, non-governmental organizations and foreign militaries worked together to support Operation Continuing Promise 2010.
CP10 is a civil-military operation that includes humanitarian civic assistance, medical, dental, veterinary and engineering support and disaster response to partner nations in the Caribbean, Central and South America.
More than 4,000 Haitians were treated for medical, dental and optometry problems over a ten-day period at two separate medical sites in Port-de-Paix and Saint-Louis de Nord. Participants convoyed out to Saint-Louis de Nord, approximately two hours from the coast of Port-de-Paix, during the first half of the mission. After the Saint-Louis de Nord medical site was complete, a second medical site was set up in the heart of the city.
“The intent of this mission is to bring (Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines) from all over the region to provide fundamental medical, optometry and dental care to the folks in this region,” said Navy Cmdr. Cyrus N. Rad, the site leader for medical site one and
optometrist. “We bring patients in and they choose which service they want whether its eyes, dental or medical, and we take care of them to the best of our ability.”
The mission also included veterinarian service. Animals serve not only as companions in Haiti but are vital to the people’s lifestyle.
Army veterinarians traveled throughout the streets of Port-de-Paix, medically screening more than 440 animals. The veterinarians immunized 260 animals, dewormed 442, eight surgeries were conducted and 53 animals received vitamin injections.
Medical and dental services were only part of the CP10 mission. Marine engineers and Navy Seabees conducted humanitarian engineering at two different locations.
With hammer in hand, Marines and Navy Seabees rebuilt the roof of a medical care facility in Port-de-Paix, Haiti. The facility could not be used because of the health hazard the damaged roof caused. The Navy Seabees also constructed bathroom facilities at the Northwest Christian Mission orphanage.
Marines with Company A, 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion, Ground Combat Element of Special-Purpose MAGTF CP10 worked with Haiti National Police and U.N. participating countries to ensure Haitians stayed calm in waiting to be medically screened and treated. The Marines also provided manpower for engineering sites, and were instrumental in leading convoys filled with supplies and personnel.
“It’s easy to say that if the Marines weren’t here, we wouldn’t have been able to accomplish the mission at all,” said Rad. “They get us where we are going, they get us set up and secure where we are, and then they bring us home all in one piece – and they do it with a smile on their face.”
While USS Iwo Jima personnel worked ashore in Port-de-Paix, many distinguished visitors toured the multipurpose amphibious assault ship. Visitors include Kenneth Merten, the American ambassador for Haiti; Shayne Gilbert, Chief of Joint Operations Tasking Center; Marine Lt. Col. Charles S. Royer, the deputy chief of military operations for United Nations stability in Haiti, Uruguay Navy Capt. Gonzalo Cunarro, Chief Maritime Operations (U-7) MINUSTAH and Lefrancois Pascale, Special Advisor on Humanitarian Affairs to the Deputy of the Special Representative of the Secretary of the UN. During their visit to the ship they learned about the mission of CP10 and how service members are helping Haitian citizens while they are in Port-de-Paix. The visitors toured the ship’s medical recovery room where they also learned that 32 surgeries were conducted aboard the ship.
Guillet Salvador, the mayor of Port-de-Paix, Haiti, visited the ship, medical sites and engineering sites. In one of the last days the USS Iwo Jima spent in Haiti, Salvador expressed his gratitude by saying he hopes the service members return to Haiti soon in continuing their partner friendships.
“We (Haitians) really appreciate what you (service members) have done for Port-de-Paix,” said Salvador. “We wish to see you again.”
In his last words to the Haitian community, during CP10, Navy Capt. Thomas M. Negus said, “Haiti remains in our hearts, and we will never forget Haiti.”