AYACUCHO, Peru --
After three months of construction, medical missions and bonding with the people of Peru, U.S. servicemembers here completed their mission of providing humanitarian aid to the underprivileged.
Since June 1, a rotating task force of 950 active duty, Reservists and Guardsmen from the Air Force, Marines, Army and Navy built three medical clinics, two school houses, a fresh water well and carried out nine medical missions that provided free medical care to the Peruvian people. The closing ceremonies, scheduled for Aug. 26, will officially end the New Horizons mission.
"Our servicemen and women have welcomed this opportunity to work side-by-side with our partners in Peru with incredible enthusiasm," said Lt. Gen. Norman Seip, 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) commander. "They recognized the direct impact the quality-of-life projects will have on the local community, but they were especially eager to strengthen the bonds of friendship with the people of Peru."
The New Horizons construction crews worked hard at providing their best work for the Peruvians while finishing two weeks ahead of schedule. The 820th Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineer (RED HORSE) squadron from Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., was not only the lead agency for the task force, but the RED HORSE Airmen also led the construction of a clinic and a school house in Yanama, a village with a population of almost 8,000, and a clinic in San Cristobal, a town of 9,000.
Marine Wing Support Squadron 472 from Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove, Pa., supported the New Horizons mission by constructing a clinic and schoolhouse in Yanamilla, which is home to more than 6,000 Peruvians.
Sailors, or "Seabees," from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 74 from Gulfport, Miss., constructed a well in the village of Asangaro, which will bring fresh water to the town of 1,200.
"The hard work and accomplishments by the Airmen, Marines and Seabees have been above and beyond not only my expectations, but also AFSOUTH, U.S. Southern Command and our embassy here," said Maj. Matt Joganich, Task Force New Horizons commander.
The facilities are long-term quality-of-life projects, but the medical missions provided much needed care for the people of Ayacucho. Medical teams from the Air Force and Navy Reserves treated 12,414 Peruvian patients in nine villages. The teams provided general medical care and diagnosis, dental check-ups and extractions, eye exams, pharmaceutical prescriptions and public health lessons.
The Reservists came from all around the United States for the medical missions. Air Force medical teams primarily from the 452nd Medical Group from March Air Reserve Base, Calif., and the 433rd MDG from Lackland AFB, Texas, treated patients at the villages Yanamilla, San Cristobal, Chiara, Carmen Alto, Mollepata and Quinua. The Navy medical team from Operational Health Support Unit-Great Lakes, Ill., one of only two Reserve Field Units in the entire Navy, treated patients in San Juan Bautista, Cobadonga and Tambillo. The leftover medical supplies from the medical missions have been stocked in the newly constructed medical clinics or donated to Ayacucho's Ministry of Health to continue to help the Peruvian people.
New Horizons ensured the medical clinics and schoolhouses were ready for immediate and long-term use. The clinics are ready for doctors to begin treating patients thanks to a $320,000 donation of medical supplies collected and donated by the Volunteers for Inter-American Development Assistance. The schoolhouses have desks, books, airplane science kits and backpacks with school supplies. The backpacks were donated by the Give A Kid A Backpack Foundation, as well as the Church of Latter-Day Saints, the science kits from Agilent Technologies, and the books were provided by the U.S. Embassy, the Tucson Rotary Club Reading Seed, and Airmen from Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz. The desks were purchased by the task force with funds from the Military Assistance Advisory Group at the U.S. Embassy in Lima.
In addition to the scheduled projects, task force members found additional ways to reach out to the Peruvian people. The 820th RED HORSE Squadron services section organized a field trip to the local museum and zoo for the base camp's school children.
The 5th Battalion, 159th Aviation Regiment, out of Ft. Eustis, Va., hosted the school children to a tour of a U.S. Army CH-47 Chinook. Also, the MWSS 472 brought more than 500 toys from the states to pass out to a local orphanage that task force members visited on a weekly basis.
"It was a different experience seeing the smile on the kids' faces - they were so happy just to get a toy," said Senior Airman Traci Achterberg, a personnelist assigned to Task Force New Horizons. "It was great coming here and seeing the buildings go up and seeing that people are going to have better lives because of what we've done here."
New Horizons is a long-running, long-term SOUTHCOM-sponsored program that annually provides humanitarian assistance to countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. The New Horizons projects create a unique opportunity for the U.S. and partnering nations to work side-by-side to refine skills of their military's engineers, medical personnel and support staff through quality-of-life activities. For New Horizons Peru, the Air Force, Marines, Navy and Army worked hand-in-hand with Peru's Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Health, and Ayacucho's regional government and rotary club, to complete the humanitarian mission.
"New Horizons is a symbol of AFSOUTH's commitment to continued cooperation and teamwork with our partner nations throughout SOUTHCOM's area of focus," General Seip explained. "Together, we can promote the security and stability necessary for democratic societies."
For more information on New Horizons, visit http://www.12af.acc.af.mil/library/newhorizons.asp