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Joint Task Force-Bravo gears up for humanitarian operations

Col. Marcus De Oliveira, commander of Joint Task Force-Bravo, surveys the situation at Puerto Cabezas International Airport.  Colonel De Oliveira is tasked with coordinating U.S. Department of Defense relief efforts in Puerto Cabezas in the wake of Hurricane Felix. U.S. Air Force photo by 1st Lt. Ericka Yepsen.

Col. Marcus De Oliveira, commander of Joint Task Force-Bravo, surveys the situation at Puerto Cabezas International Airport. Colonel De Oliveira is tasked with coordinating U.S. Department of Defense relief efforts in Puerto Cabezas in the wake of Hurricane Felix. U.S. Air Force photo by 1st Lt. Ericka Yepsen.

A loadmaster from Soto Cano Air Base refuels a Joint Task Force-Bravo UH-47 Chinook on the tarmac at Managua, Nicaragua with the help of a Nicaraguan Airport worker.  The UH-47 was enroute to Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua, carrying supplies and communications equipment for the U.S. military assessment team from Soto Cano that arrived in Nicaragua Sept. 5.  The U.S. military is working with the U.S. State Department and Nicaraguan officials to provide relief to Nicaraguans in need in the wake of Hurricane Felix. U.S. Air Force photo by 1st Lt. Erika Yepsen.

A loadmaster from Soto Cano Air Base refuels a Joint Task Force-Bravo UH-47 Chinook on the tarmac at Managua, Nicaragua with the help of a Nicaraguan Airport worker. The UH-47 was enroute to Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua, carrying supplies and communications equipment for the U.S. military assessment team from Soto Cano that arrived in Nicaragua Sept. 5. The U.S. military is working with the U.S. State Department and Nicaraguan officials to provide relief to Nicaraguans in need in the wake of Hurricane Felix. U.S. Air Force photo by 1st Lt. Erika Yepsen.

A Venezuelan Air Force C-130 sits on the tarmac in Managua, Nicaragua, waiting to be unloaded.  The C-130 is loaded with water and other relief supplies being donated by Venezuela.  The supplies are destined to be distributed at Puerto Cabezas and other locations throughout Nicaragua where they are needed in the wake of Hurricane Felix. U.S. Air Force photo by 1st Lt. Erika Yepsen.

A Venezuelan Air Force C-130 sits on the tarmac in Managua, Nicaragua, waiting to be unloaded. The C-130 is loaded with water and other relief supplies being donated by Venezuela. The supplies are destined to be distributed at Puerto Cabezas and other locations throughout Nicaragua where they are needed in the wake of Hurricane Felix. U.S. Air Force photo by 1st Lt. Erika Yepsen.

PUERTO CABEZAS, Nicaragua -- A UH-47 Chinook helicopter and a 10-person team from Soto Cano Air Base in Honduras, landed here Sept. 6 bringing food, water and communications equipment to support the nine-person assessment team the base launched Sept. 5.

Included in the 10-person team was Col. Marcus De Oliveira, the Joint Task Force-Bravo commander, who was tasked with coordinating U.S. Department of Defense relief efforts in Puerto Cabezas.

The re-supply and communications equipment brought in will posture the U.S. Armed Forces for continued humanitarian operations in Nicaragua, said Maj. Jason Clark, an operations officer with the team.

"The conditions out here are really, really tough," said Sidney Velado, a regional advisor for USAID Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance.

The first shipment of relief materials including blankets, roofing materials and hygiene kits from USAID's warehouse in Miami arrived in Puerto Cabezas late Sept. 6. Navy aircrews from the U.S.S. WASP will transport the materials from Puerto Cabezas to farther outlying areas along the Nicaraguan coast in need of relief materials. The aircrews from the U.S.S. WASP arrived in Puerto Cabezas early in the morning Sept. 7 and expect to depart with the humanitarian relief shortly.

"We were in the middle of an enormous exercise when the decision was made to come into port early to support this humanitarian relief," said Cmdr. Frank Dowd, the commanding officer of HM-15, a MH-53 helicopter flying squadron based off the U.S.S. WASP.

"It's great to be part of this," said Commander Dowd. "Everybody loves to be able to do the right thing and helping out here is the right thing to do."

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