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Fort Bragg medical brigade lands in US Virgin Islands to provide Irma relief

Posted 11:28 a.m. Thursday
Updated 11:12 p.m. Thursday

— WRAL's Ken Smith and photojournalist Richard Adkins will be embedded with Fort Bragg’s 18th Airborne Corps as they provide medical support to the local hospital in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

Eighty soldiers with the 44th Medical Brigade deployed to the U.S. Virgin Islands on Thursday.

Ken Smith in US Virgin Islands

The team, called the 602nd Area Support Medical Company which is part of the 261st Multifunctional Medical Battalion, includes surgeons, doctors, nurses, medics, X-ray technicians and behavioral health specialists.

Sgt. Bill Bavetta said he quickly realized that the brigade's help was sorely needed.

"We really got the ball rolling here," he said.

Ssg. Christina Dodson echoed that sentiment.

"There is definitely some devastation going on here, and hopefully, we can provide the medical support they need to get these people back up on their feet," she said.

Ken, who is from St. Thomas, will also be able to visit his family, who sustained major damage to their home.

The length of the 602nd's mission is not yet determined.

Ken Smith in US Virgin Islands

The Fort Bragg team's mission is to provide medical care.

"It means a lot for me to be here, especially with the group of soldiers that I have," Sgt. Kelsey Turner said. "I feel extremely blessed to have troops that I do and to be thanked every day by the people of the Virgin Islands is an amazing feeling."

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  • Gator Girll Sep 14, 7:03 p.m.

    I'll be happy to see this as I consider St. John my home away from home. Had to fly into St. Thomas and ferry over but always spent time on St. Thomas on both ends of the trips we make.