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Monday, May 21, 2007

Teamwork brings humanitarian aid to Paruns

21 May 2007
By Army Pfc. Daniel M. Rangel
22nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

PARUNS, Afghanistan - Servicemembers of Operation Ice Axe conducted a medical engagement in the remote Paruni village of Mondi May 4-5.

Operation Ice Axe included units from the Nuristan Provincial Reconstruction Team; Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment; U.S. Special Forces Soldiers and the Asadabad PRT.

“Our mission here in Nuristan is to extend the reach of Coalition forces,” said Army Maj. Thomas B. Gukeisen, 1-32 Inf. Regt. executive officer.

“We’re establishing a provincial development council for the first time in Nuristan with assistance from the Nuristan PRT,” Gukeisen said.

The medical engagement is seen as part of a larger effort to gain popular support and to assist Tamim Nouristani, governor of Nuristan province.

Gukeisen said the engagement treated approximately 300 people the first day, to include 75 women and children.

“Our mission here is to give medical assistance to the women and children and win the hearts and minds of the local people,” said Spc. Ashley Brown, a medic based out of Camp Blessing.

Scores of Paruni people stood patiently in line to get medical care as their children played with the toys from the Humanitarian Aid packages that were handed out at the site.

“They were really appreciative,” said a U.S. interpreter originally from Kandahar who called herself Farita. “They really needed a lot of help. All the people I spoke to want us to come back. They’re really looking forward to having Coalition forces here.”

Supplies were delivered using Containerized Delivery System drops. Two such drops were conducted during Operation Ice Axe.

“We did a drop the other day that ended up in the mountains,” said Sgt. 1st Class John P. Rome, mortar platoon sergeant and one of six pathfinder-qualified individuals in the battalion.

Rome and 2nd Platoon Charlie Company, 1-32 Inf., led the community-wide effort to recover the lost pallets of HA supplies.

“The interesting thing about it is all the towns and all the locals came forward with donkeys and horses and it was a community effort to come together to recover the CDS,” Gukeisen said.

The pallets dropped from the C-130 were difficult to find in the heavily-wooded mountains at 8,000 feet above sea level where oxygen is thin. Fatigue slowed down the entire process. The amount of effort taken to get the packages to their intended destination was considerable, but the teamwork between the local community, the Soldiers of 1-32 Inf. Regt. and the Air Force made the mission a success.

Photo: Navy Lt. Cmdr. William C. Ashby, physicians assistant and medical officer for Nuristan PRT, treats a local Afghan May 4 in the Mondi village during the medical engagement.

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