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U.S. Ambassador celebrates Thanksgiving at the FOL

U.S. Ambassador Linda Jewell, along with Lt. Col. Robert Leonard, 478th Expeditionary Operations Squadron commander, presents $135,200 worth of medical equipment to representatives from Hospital Rodriguez Zambrano and San Gregorio Hospital.  Both hospitals are located in Manta, Ecuador. The donated equipment arrived at the FOL on a KC-135 from the Alabama Air National Guard’s 117th Air Refueling Wing.  Additional medical equipment arrived on a KC-135 from the Alaska Air National Guard’s 168th ARW.  Both wings deployed to Manta to support operations at the FOL. (U.S. Air Force photo/1st Lt. Malinda Singleton)

U.S. Ambassador Linda Jewell, along with Lt. Col. Robert Leonard, 478th Expeditionary Operations Squadron commander, presents $135,200 worth of medical equipment to representatives from Hospital Rodriguez Zambrano and San Gregorio Hospital. Both hospitals are located in Manta, Ecuador. The donated equipment arrived at the FOL on a KC-135 from the Alabama Air National Guard’s 117th Air Refueling Wing. Additional medical equipment arrived on a KC-135 from the Alaska Air National Guard’s 168th ARW. Both wings deployed to Manta to support operations at the FOL. (U.S. Air Force photo/1st Lt. Malinda Singleton)

U.S. Ambassador Linda Jewell celebrates Thanksgiving at the FOL dining facility with Airmen of the FOL, as well as directors of local community organizations in Manta, Ecuador. (U.S. Air Force photo/1st Lt. Malinda Singleton)

U.S. Ambassador Linda Jewell celebrates Thanksgiving at the FOL dining facility with Airmen of the FOL, as well as directors of local community organizations in Manta, Ecuador. (U.S. Air Force photo/1st Lt. Malinda Singleton)

FORWARD OPERATING LOCATION MANTA, Ecuador -- The U.S. Ambassador to Ecuador visited Airmen of the 478th Expeditionary Operations Squadron here Nov. 19 to help celebrate Thanksgiving. 

Ambassador Linda Jewell traveled from Quito to Manta to attend a Thanksgiving lunch with members of the FOL, as well as with directors of local community organizations in Manta. 

"To the members of the American armed forces here today, I want to wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving! For all you do to serve your country, I thank you. I am very pleased to be able to celebrate this special holiday here with you in friendship and in peace," Ambassador Jewell said during her Thanksgiving toast. "I [also] welcome all my Ecuadorian friends here today. We are thankful for our dear friends of Manta and for your friendship as our hosts." 

The troops and local community members enjoyed a traditional Thanksgiving lunch of turkey, twice-baked potatoes, green beans, and salad. They were also treated to a non-traditional dessert of Tiramisu. 

During her visit, she also took the time out to help donate $135,200 worth of medical equipment to Hospital Rodriguez Zambrano and San Gregorio Hospital, which are both located in Manta. Some of the equipment included exam tables, anesthesia machines, wheel chairs and orthopedic casting supplies. 

The donated equipment came from the Callahan Eye Foundation Hospital in Alabama, the University of Alabama in Birmingham, Remarket Medical in Atlanta, and the Door of Hope Organization in Alaska. 

The equipment from Alabama arrived in October on a KC-135 from the Air National Guard's 117th Air Refueling Wing. Dr. Gwendolyn Boyd of the Callahan Eye Foundation Hospital and the University of Alabama in Birmingham Anesthesia Department, was in Ecuador this past summer on a medical mission. When she returned to the United States, she contacted the Alabama ANG to help them transport the equipment to Manta. 

Additionally, the Door of Hope organization was able to coordinate with the Alaska Air National Guard's 168th ARW to bring additional equipment down on a KC-135 tail swap Nov. 15. 

"When you live in an environment as extreme as Alaska, you gain a frontier type attitude. Everyone helps one another out, because sometimes life depends on it," said Capt. Jake Earle who is a KC-135 pilot from the 168th ARW, and helped coordinated the humanitarian efforts that were brought down to Manta. "When our community heard about what we were doing many pitched in to help and surpassed our wildest expectations. We are very happy that we were able to bring down this equipment to the people of Ecuador. It made us proud to be representatives of the state of Alaska and the United States of America." 

Both wings deployed to Manta to support operations at the FOL. 

"This is the proof of a true friendship that is shown between two countries," the ambassador said. "I am very proud when I see this evidence like today's donations of our association and collaboration of 'Amigos y Socios' (Friends and Partners)."

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