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JTF-Bravo plays vital role in Navy humanitarian mission

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Shaun Emery
  • Joint Task Force Bravo Public Affairs
By land, by sea and by air, members of the U.S. military provide humanitarian assistance to the less fortunate around the world. Members of Joint Task Force-Bravo at Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, assisted the Navy with ground and air support for the world-wide humanitarian mission Project Handclasp Aug. 6-8.

Project Handclasp is a partnership with corporations, public service organizations, non-government organizations and individuals throughout the United States. Project Handclasp's humanitarian, educational and goodwill materials are donated by America's private sector at no-cost to the government, and personally distributed by Sailors and Marines to those in need overseas.

During their mission to Honduras, members of the USS Pearl Harbor requested the aid of aircrew, medical personnel and Headquarters Support Company personnel from Joint Task Force-Bravo to accomplish their mission. Members of JTF-Bravo helped move two tons worth of supplies during the three day mission.

"A project of this magnitude takes coordination and cooperation from everyone involved," said Navy Chaplain (Lt.) Dennis Wheeler. "We normally would have to rent vehicles to distribute materials to the villages. JTF-Bravo went above and beyond with their ground and air support."

Members of the 1st Battalion 228th Aviation Regiment touched down in the town of Coyolito, Honduras, where local children helped load a UH-60 Black Hawk with food and personal hygiene items. The crew airlifted the items to four villages in the surrounding area. Army Chief Warrant Officer Richard Payton, a 1-228th UH-60 pilot said he was glad the 1-228th could lend a hand.

"It's always a good feeling when you can do a humanitarian mission," he said. "We train all the time here at Soto Cano. To actually take that training and put it to use for this type of mission is outstanding."

In total, Project Handclasp delivered humanitarian relief to nine villages in southern Honduras. Medical liaisons from JTF-Bravo worked with the Honduran Ministry of Health to identify sites with high rates of malnutrition.

"Project Handclasp was a great opportunity to provide relief to those in need," said Lt. Col. Esmeraldo Zarzabal, JTF-Bravo's Medical Element deputy commander. "This effort goes a long way in our continuing focus on partnership with the Americas."

As the 1-228th flew overhead, members of the support platoon took to the road to deliver goods to the remaining villages. When they arrived at their destination they were greeted by local children, eyes wide in anticipation.

"I don't think they were expecting to receive all the things we had for them," said Army Staff Sgt. Alma Jennings, HSC platoon sergeant. "They were really happy to see us. It was a wonderful feeling."

While Project Handclasp provided the Honduran people with humanitarian, educational, and goodwill materials, it also provided units from JTF-Bravo an opportunity to show they can support a variety of mission throughout the Americas.