Coast Guard and Air Force team together to transport vitamins
By Capt. Ashley Norris, 478th Expeditionary Operations Squadron
/ Published February 08, 2008
FORWARD OPERATING LOCATION MANTA, Ecuador -- A U.S. Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules landed here Thursday evening with a generator and 1,053,800 vitamins for local schools and an orphanage, donated by Vitamins for the World and Extreme Response International.
Bob Eredics, director of Vitamins for the World, based in Bradenton, Fla., was part of an eight-member team that spent one week in Ecuador providing humanitarian support.
"We are very happy to be here in Ecuador to provide care for those in need," said Mr. Eredics. "We can only hope that we put a smile on their faces and provide them with something they need." He said this shipment was only half of the two million vitamins that will come to Ecuador. These vitamins will impact the lives of more than 5,050 children and pregnant women in the local Manabí province.
Vitamins for the World and Extreme Response International are both non-profit organizations that have partnered to help provide vitamins and minerals to less fortunate children and adults in Ecuador. One of the team's projects was to build a well at the Montanita Verde Orphanage where 15 children reside.
Vitamins for the World obtained vitamins and a 7.5 kilo-watt auto start generator needed to construct a fresh water well, but had no way to transport them to Ecuador. This is where the Air Force stepped in.
Chaplain (Capt.) Jason Knudeson, started the process when he was deployed here from Barksdale Air Force Base, La. Chaplain (Capt.) Steven Survance, deployed here from Shaw AFB, S.C., followed through on his predecessor's work and reached out to help Vitamins for the World and Extreme Response International. He worked with Air Force leadership to secure space aboard a Coast Guard HC-130, which had just enough space for three pallets headed to FOL Manta, located on the Ecuadorian Air Force Base, Aerea Eloy Alfaro.
"It's amazing what our team of Airmen were able to accomplish," said Chaplain Survance. "We are very happy that we were able to support these organizations in their mission to serve those in need."
Late Thursday evening the three pallets were off-loaded and Bob Eredics' team had the generator working by noon the next day. Extreme Response International will distribute the vitamins to schools through Montanita Verde Orphanage.
The U.S. Coast Guard HC-130 is deployed to FOL Manta in support of Joint Interagency Task Force South's efforts in the Eastern Pacific Ocean to stop transnational narcotics movement. As a result of missions launched from the Manta FOL in 2008, 30 metric tons of drugs, valued at $619 million, have been seized.
The 478th Expeditionary Operations Squadron commander, Lt. Col. Robert Leonard said, "This is a wonderful opportunity for the FOL to help get vitamins to those who need them the most in the local community and we're glad that we could help make it happen. A donation of this magnitude will greatly benefit the less fortunate here within Manabí Province and is a testament to FOL Manta and Manabi working together as Amigos y Socios"