LIMON, Costa Rica -- Costa Rican officials and U.S. service members from the USS Iwo Jima gathered during an opening ceremony in Limon, Costa Rica, Aug. 21, 2010, to commence the 10-day humanitarian civic assistance mission in support of Continuing Promise 2010 – Partnership of the Americas.
The New Harmony Air Force Band of Flight played the Costa Rican and U.S. national anthems before key leaders addressed the local community. Key leaders included the U.S. Ambassador to Costa Rica Anne Andrew, the Mayor of Limon Eduardo Barboza, CP10 Commodore Thomas M. Negus, USS Iwo Jima commanding officer Navy Capt. Thomas J. Chassee, special-purpose marine air-ground task force commanding officer Lt. Col. Chris. S Richie and senior medical officer Navy Capt. William J. Tanner. .
“I cannot tell you how excited we are to visit Costa Rica and work with you all in this humanitarian mission. CP10 is a commitment that is as strong as the magnificent ship that brought us here” said Negus. “Our feelings of commitment and partnership are so strong that we use no words … instead we use our actions. Our work is given meaning by our shared neighborhood.”
CP10 mission personnel will spend their time in Limon, Costa Rica, working at three different medical sites, two engineering and community relations sites, providing veterinary services and training with the Costa Rican Police Force. As part of the CP10 mission, U.S. and foreign service members and non-government organizations will provide medical, dental, veterinary and engineering services to host nations within the Caribbean, Central and South America.
“I am delighted that the Iwo Jima will be with us for ten days, and I know you will extend a warm welcome to them, as you have to me,” said Andrew. “I feel very lucky that many of the people I have met within the last week are here with us today to receive the commodore and crew of USS Iwo Jima.”
During the opening ceremony, both Andrew and Negus received keys to the city of Limon, Costa Rica. After receiving their respective keys, the U.S. ambassador said it was a great honor for the people of Limon to bestow such a gesture to her and the entire Iwo Jima team.
“It’s an honor and a real joy to be here today,” said Richie. “While we’re in Costa Rica, we have the unique opportunity to exchange ideas with the police force about humanitarian aid and disaster relief. We’re here to learn as much as we can.”
The Marine Corps’ role in CP10 is to provide air, ground and logistics support. In addition, the Marines serve as first responders if a natural disaster were to occur in the region.