N.C. troops 'centerpiece' of Haiti relief

Posted January 18, 2010

— Thousands of Camp Lejeune-based Marines are expected to arrive off the shore of Haiti's devastated capital city Monday.

They will join 1,000 82nd Airborne Division paratroopers whose commanding general describes them as the "centerpiece" of the relief effort after last Tuesday's earthquake that is estimated to have killed more than 100,000 people.

"This mission could not happen without the 82nd Airborne," said said Army Lt. Gen. P.K. "Ken" Keen, commander of the Haiti mission. "It's absolutely critical. They're the centerpiece of what we're doing right now."

82nd Airborne delivers aid to Haiti

The 82nd is running one of four supply distribution points on a hillside overlooking Port-au-Prince. About 50,000 people have created what has come to be called a "survivor's camp" on that hillside in order to be close at hand for the daily distribution of food and water.

Nearby is the 82nd's forward operating base at Petionville Club. The damaged country club has Haiti's only golf course.

Paratroopers have also started going into hard-hit areas of the capital city and handing out rations to homeless residents, many of whom are camping out in the open streets. On a convoy Monday morning, well-behaved crowds received all the food and water the soldiers had in a half-hour.

Mims goes with 82nd Airborne convoy to capital Video: Mims goes with 82nd Airborne convoy to capital

The nearly 1,000 paratroopers will soon be joined by the 82nd's entire 2nd Brigade, bringing their numbers to 3,500, Keen said.

The 82nd Airborne's commanding general praised the support from Pope Air Force personnel Base and Fort Bragg's civilian staff, transporting soldiers, supplies and aid.

"Our paratroopers and soldiers are the greatest the world has ever known. But it also important to acknowledge that it is not just the soldiers that make this post work and that make this operation happen," Lt. Gen. Frank G. Helmick said in a statement.

"We are blessed by a tremendous civilian staff in both the Garrison Command and the Mission Support Element, which augment the military.

"Our Air Force brothers at Pope are remarkable, and we could not do this without them," he continued. "While we wear different uniforms, we are one team."

The Camp Lejeune-based 2nd Marine Expeditionary Unit arriving in Haiti Monday on a U.S. naval ship is expected to stay for at least 30 days. The outfit of 2,200 Marines and sailors will reinforce 1,000 Marines already on the ground.

The 2nd MEU is trained to provide disaster relief, including engineering support and medical aid. It is bringing trucks, earth-moving equipment and water-purification systems.

The unit has been to Haiti at least three times before to provide relief to refugees and storm victims.

In other U.S. military efforts, the U.S. Coast Guard ship Oak arrived Sunday and will use heavy cranes and other equipment to fix Port-au-Prince's harbor. Earthquake damage made the port inoperable, making the country's single-runway airport the only access point for incoming aid.

Additionally, 7,000 United Nations peacekeepers and 2,100 international police offers are on the ground in Haiti as part of a peacekeeping mission that pre-dates the earthquake.

U.N. peacekeeping chief Alain Le Roy said Monday that he plans to ask the Security Council to temporarily increase the U.N.'s force.


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  • Bendal1 Jan 19, 2010

    The earthquake made conditions in Haiti "just a little worse"?

    The level of callousness here is typical of a lot of ignorant, uninformed, cynical people I've had the misfortune to speak to about this subject. Over 200k Haitians died in this earthquake --so far--. A third of their population have no clean water, no food, no shelter, and no medical treatment for their injuries. The US and many other countries are sending help but it is going to take time to help so many in need, and the media loves to ask "why can't help get there faster?".

    The 82nd and Marines are there doing what they can, but it's the poorest country in this hemisphere and there's only so much that can be done.

  • aspenstreet1717 Jan 18, 2010

    Any little country that has over 9 million poor people is a disaster waiting to happen. Hurricanes and earth quakes have hit there before. It was just a matter of when.

  • Heather Jan 18, 2010

    Well raleighlynn - NOLA cannot even compare to Haiti. For one thing, the residents of NOLA knew a hurricane was coming and the fact that it sits below sea level should have given an indication of the potential for disaster. Haiti had no warning. Plus, NOLA is just a small part of a country. The government remained intact after the disaster - in Haiti it has not. The two do not compare and to use the hurricane and subsequent levy break as a comparison against Haiti is absurd.

  • aspenstreet1717 Jan 18, 2010

    Haiti was a disaster waiting to happen just like Katrina. When will people do things to avert disaster??

  • raleighlynn Jan 18, 2010

    Many have expressed my feelings. I'm all for helping Haiti. I'm all for standing beside citizens of other countries around the world to help Haiti, Africa, or any nation in need. But as a Katrina nurse, I can tell you our own nation is in need. Who is helping in New Orleans right now? Anybody? Or have we forgotten our own.....again? It's always the U.S.A. shelling out the funds and the manpower. Time for other countries to step up, and time for us to help our own.

  • HologramEclipse Jan 18, 2010

    landshark- someone saw 60 minutes last night I presume?

  • luvmyjackrascal Jan 18, 2010

    uvmyjackrascal...just go to all of the all of the News stations. If you have reached some level of education on am sure you know how to change channels. We are doing our thing to help, ARE YOU! Have you volunteered to go to Haiti to dig out those poor souls? Have you been: running drives to get food, clothes, money? Do you make these stupid comments every time we have a disaster somewhere in the world? You should be sainted. Lets stop day-to-day activities, here and just concentrate on Haiti. What have you done over the years to help this poorest of countries, How about Darfur? How about the people in the good old USA who are losing jobs and homes every day under our Socialist Administration? Are you fighting for them

    All I meant was that it was a weird feeling to see commercials on tv showing restaurants after showing the destruction and desperate people in Haiti - I don't understand where this came from??

  • Willie_11 Jan 18, 2010

    People - part of the relief effort is to let the world know that the US is still the leader in humanitarian efforts. If you read the China Daily, the Chinese govt. is claiming that they were first in the region on aid support. China's motivation was to spread propaganda to their people about their country's effort. There is more than what is on the surface when it comes to humanitarian aid.

  • oldfirehorse Jan 18, 2010

    "Anyone heard of American Samoa?"

    Isn't that a Girl Scout cookie?

  • Adelinthe Jan 18, 2010

    It's at time like this that our troops really shine. God bless them all.

    And for those of you using this tragedy as a means to promote a private agenda regarding life in Haiti, shame on you.

    That's not what matters now.

    What matters now is that people are dying and need help, and those who are able should give it to them.

    God bless.