NEWS FLASH – This just in!!!!
The 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, commanded by Colonel Peter Petronzio, has been diverted and is heading to assist in the relief effort in Haiti. Already at sea, the USS Nassau, USS Mesa Verde and the USS Ashland are carrying 2300 Marines to include the Medium Tilt Wing Squadron 162 with V-22 Ospreys and Ch-53s. First Battalion, 8th Marines are part of the MEU as the Battalion Landing Team. MORE LATER
Now – back to the original story
The sailors of USS Bataan (LHA-5) started providing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief in support of Operation Unified Response. The Amphibious Relief Mission, a sea base from which relief operations are staged off the coast of Haiti, includes Bataan, USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43), USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44), USS Carter Hall (LSD 50) and the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit’s (MEU), aircraft, amphibious equipment, and 2200 Marines. They have all been working around the clock since they were first alerted last Wednesday. But, yesterday, we saw the first fruits of their labor.
Tuesday morning, January 19, 2010, US Navy and Marine helicopters started lifting off from Bataan’s flight deck. The Marines first goal was to set up a secure landing zone and then to start flying in supplies to the people of Haiti. The Marines and sailors worked all day, getting much-needed food and water to the survivors at “ground-zero.”
Then, near sunset, a desperate call went out on CNN. A 70 year-old woman had just been pulled from the rubble. After spending a week pinned in a collapsed building, she was weak, dehydrated and in need of immediate surgery. Anderson Cooper sent out a personal plea, begging for someone to take her in.
The United States military answered in a joint effort. The United States Coast Guard responded to the call for help, sending an HH-65A Dolphin helicopter to evacuate the elderly patient. By 8:15 p.m. the Coast Guard helicopter was landing on Bataan’s flight deck. The lucky woman was rushed into a sterile surgical environment where here broken bones were treated.
Meanwhile, one of Bataan’s own helicopters, an MH-60S Knighthawk from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 22, responded to another distress call. They returned to the ship with a 24-year-old woman and an infant boy in need of urgent medical care. They too, were rushed to surgery.
“This is why we train,” said Commander Melanie Merrick, senior medical officer aboard Bataan. “We are equipped for these types of injuries to provide resuscitation and stabilization.”
By this morning, all three were resting comfortably and Amphibious Squadron 6’s task was swinging into full operation. Bataan’s flight deck continued its 24-hour, around-the-clock operations, ferrying in supplies and Marines and bringing 17 more casualties aboard for treatment. Meanwhile, below of the flight deck, Bataan’s “well deck” was launching landing craft as Colonel Gareth Brandl’s 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit’s Battalion Landing Team worked to establish a foothold on the beach and ferry in more aid to the Haitian people.
The “Blue-Green” team will remain in Haiti for as long as it takes to get the people back on their feet. ‘The Marines have landed.’
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