Airlift Ability Aids Injured Indonesians


Story Number: NNS050107-02Release Date: 1/7/2005 10:03:00 AM
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By Journalist 3rd Class Dave Poe, Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet Public Affairs

BANDA ACEH, Sumatra, Indonesia (NNS) -- Fifty injured Indonesian nationals were moved through Banda Aceh's Sultan Iskandar Muda (Indonesian) Air Force Base by Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group (ALCSG) Sailors and humanitarian coalition troops via Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2 and supporting aircraft Jan. 4.

With hospitals filled to capacity at Banda Aceh, which lies 70 miles south from Aceh, the Indonesian provincial capital, the plan was to mass airlift those needing medical care via passenger jet to other medical facilities throughout the region.

The plan hit a snag in the early morning hours when an airlift jet struck a wayward farm animal at Banda Aceh Airport. The collision damaged the aircraft's landing gear, which brought it to a standstill on the only landing strip capable of handling a sizable aircraft in the area.

Approximately 100 strike group Sailors joined British, Australian and host Indonesian service members, along with representatives from other countries and international organizations on the ground to coordinate and shuttle the injured to their corresponding aircraft.

Besides essential ALCSG personnel, such as pilots, air crew members, medical staff, and coordinators on the ground, hundreds of other Sailors continued to line up to help.

Airman Emily Aleiwe, of Salt Lake City, was on the ground, helping onload and offload ailing nationals and supplies at Sultan Iskandar Muda. With less than two years of naval service, Aleiwe saw firsthand the ugliness of the tsunami tragedy and the selflessness of her country.

"I thought I was just coming out here to move supplies," said Aleiwe, "but seeing the state those patients were in was horrible."

Aleiwe learned the reality of the Dec. 26 tsunami by hearing the cries of its victims. Seeing people in dire pain may not be an experience she wants to remember, but she said the work of all the volunteers at Banda Aceh is one she never wants to forget.

"I'll never regret coming out here and helping," said Aleiwe. "I'm so proud of everything we did out here today and everything the Navy is doing out here for these people."

In addition to transporting the injured to hospitals, tens of thousands of pounds of supplies passed through Sultan Iskandar Muda. Statistics show the supply drive is statistically gaining steam. The more than 100,000 pounds transported Jan. 3-4 is the highest two-day total since the ALCSG relief operation began.

By sundown, a coalition of humanitarian troops and relief workers had moved the disabled aircraft and reopened the airport.

For related news on Navy tsunami relief operations, visit the Focus on Tsunami Relief Operations page at www.navy.mil/local/tsunami.

For related news, visit the Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/c7f.

 
RELATED PHOTOS
U.S. Navy personnel carry an injured Tsunami victim from an SH-60 Seahawk helicopter to the medical headquarters at Sultan Iskandar Muda Air Force Base in Banda Aceh, Sumatra, Indonesia.
050104-N-9293K-169 Aceh, Sumatra, Indonesia (Jan. 4, 2005) - U.S. Navy personnel carry an injured Tsunami victim from an SH-60 Seahawk helicopter to the medical headquarters at Sultan Iskandar Muda Air Force Base in Banda Aceh, Sumatra, Indonesia. Medical teams from USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), Carrier Air Wing Two (CVW-2) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) set-up a triage site located on Sultan Iskandar Muda Air Force Base, in Banda Aceh, Sumatra. The two teams worked together with members of the Australian Air Force to provide initial medical care to victims of the Tsunami-stricken coastal regions. The Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group is currently operating in the Indian Ocean off the waters of Indonesia and Thailand U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 3rd Class Jacob J. Kirk (RELEASED)
January 5, 2005
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