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FOL Manta closing, donates items to local community

FORWARD OPERATING LOCATION MANTA, Ecuador -- Lt. Col. Jared Curtis, 478th Expeditionary Operations Squadron commander, stands with local citizens in front of an ambulance donated to an organization near FOL Manta Sept. 16. To mark the end of 10 years of community relations activities, officials donated almost $1 million worth of equipment, food and supplies to local establishments. FOL Manta was deactivated Sept. 18 after a lease between the United States and Ecuador expired. (Courtesy Photo)

FORWARD OPERATING LOCATION MANTA, Ecuador -- Lt. Col. Jared Curtis, 478th Expeditionary Operations Squadron commander, stands with local citizens in front of an ambulance donated to an organization near FOL Manta Sept. 16. To mark the end of 10 years of community relations activities, officials donated almost $1 million worth of equipment, food and supplies to local establishments. The forward operating location was deactivated Sept. 18 after a lease between the United States and Ecuador expired. (Courtesy Photo)

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- To conclude the community relations program at Forward Operating Location Manta, Ecuador, officials donated almost $1 million worth of equipment, food and supplies to local establishments. 

The base is scheduled to close Sept. 18, ending a 10-year lease agreement of the base between the United States and Ecuador. 

"This week officially concludes the FOL's community relations program in Manta," said Lt. Col. Jared Curtis, 478th Expeditionary Operations Squadron commander. "From now until Sept. 18, we are working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, packing and shipping approximately 5,000 items to 22 locations outside of Ecuador. We will continue to support the counterdrug effort with the majority of those assets. Additionally, we will donate another 3,500 items to the Ecuadorian Air Force for their use after we depart the FOL."

Among the donated items were five vehicles, an ambulance, a runway sweeper, office and medical supplies, tools, and foodstuffs. Thirty-two organizations received donations, including six schools, seven fire departments, two outreach programs, two orphanages, four hospitals, and three soup kitchens.

The support for Manta and other communities in Manabi Province is nothing new for U.S. servicemembers at FOL Manta. The unit has carried out an intensive community relations program since it opened in 1999. In an average year, troops volunteered for 200 events and donated more than 4,000 hours and 15,000 items. Just last year, non-profit organizations in the country received $30,000 in donations from the U.S. Embassy as well.

"We appreciate the goodwill shown by our Ecuadorian hosts over that past 10 years," Colonel Curtis said. "Their support was key to our success."

FOL Manta, located at the Ecuadorian Air Force Base Eloy Alfaro, has been a well-defined part of a multinational partnership to stop illegal narcotic trafficking over the eastern Pacific Ocean. Missions flown by the 487th EOS included aerial detection, monitoring, tracking and control of narcotic activities. The partnership forged between the U.S. and Ecuador will continue even after the lease expires.

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