USNS COMFORT, At Anchor (NNS) -- The commander of Joint Task Force, Haiti, visited USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) March 8 to express his appreciation for the hard work and dedication exhibited by the crew aboard the hospital ship during the past several weeks in support of Operation Unified Response.
During his visit, Lt. Gen. P. K. "Ken" Keen lauded the efforts of the crew of Sailors and civil mariners whose devotion to the multinational humanitarian mission led to the successful treatment of 794 Haitians affected by the destructive 7.0 magnitude earthquake that devastated the Caribbean nation's capitol of Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas Jan. 12.
"Hospital ships represent the very best of America," Keen said. "The job each and every one of you has done, from the crew to the medical staff has been extraordinary."
Keen spoke to the gathered crew on the mess deck and praised their efforts alongside Anthony Banbury, acting principal deputy special representative of the secretary-general for the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).
"Thank you so much each and every one of you for the lives you saved," said Banbury. "The lives you have touched, the memory of what you have done, will endure for a long time in the hearts and minds of the Haitian people."
After the address, Keen toured the casualty receiving area where the first earthquake victims were triaged Jan. 19 before the ship arrived off Haiti's coast. Keen also visited the hospital ship's surgical suite which contains 12 operating rooms and met with the operating room staff responsible for 843 surgeries.
"Comfort has enabled us to meet the needs of the people and to address the most traumatic injuries,"
Walking through the corridors of the hospital ship, Keen took time to greet members of the crew and personally thank them. One of the Sailors greeted by Keen was Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Reneline Llamas.
"It's an honor to be recognized. It makes you feel really special," said Llamas, a surgical technician who performed her duties in the pre- and post-operative care ward aboard Comfort. "I'm so blessed to be on this mission. I will never forget what I've had the opportunity to do here."
More than 20,000 service members, including 1,400 Sailors, civilian mariners and nongovernmental volunteers aboard Comfort, have provided aid during Operation Unified Response, a USAID-led relief effort in conjunction with the government of Haiti to begin the steps toward the Caribbean nation's recovery from January's catastrophe.
To date military forces attached to the Joint Task Force in Haiti have provided a little more than 2.6 million bottles of water, 2.2 million meals, and 149,000 pounds of medical supplies.
"Thank you for everything you have done," said Keen. "As you go back home, remind folks that Haiti is still a country in desperate need of the world's assistance."
For more news from USNS Comfort, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/tah20/.