22nd MEU Begin Phased Departure From Humanitarian Assistance in Haiti

This slide show highlights the departure of the 22nd MEU from the Caribbean after its engagement in the Haiti rescue operation.

Context : From Insertion to Washdown
Using the four elements of a Marine Air-Ground Task Force, the Marines and sailors were expeditiously inserted by air and sea into several locations west of the nation’s capital, Port-au-Prince. Once on the ground, troops established secure bases to begin relief operations in the cities of Grand Goave, Petite Goave and Leogane. From these locations, hundreds-of-thousands-of-pounds of food and water were distributed to earthquake victims in the surrounding areas.

First Lt. Peter M. Balawender, logistics officer, Combat Logistics Battalion 22, 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, said their initial HA responses allowed non-governmental organizations to build strength and prepare to take over the relief efforts for the long-term rebuilding of the Haitian infrastructure.
“We were the first tangible presence providing assistance, and the Marines did a wonderful job providing care, food, water and medical supplies.There was a four-week period where the NGOs could not provide essential services,” Balawender continued, “we bridged that gap until they were strong.”

Besides food and water distribution, the Marines and sailors also provided other services to the people of Haiti, which included debris removal and several water assessments. Medical personnel from the 22nd MEU and the USS Bataanalso  treated nearly 100 earthquake victims aboard USS Bataan’s medical facilities.

During the first two-weeks of February, the Marines and Sailors moved their presence into Carrefour, Haiti, a one-million person city on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince. While in the city, Marines and Sailors conducted civil affairs missions throughout the area, successfully bringing the people of the city together with local leaders, and the local and national government.

The Marines began scaling back their food and water distribution role as NGOs developed the capability to take over operations. Marines continue to remain in the area to provide supplemental security for further distributions.
The first ship from the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group containing Marines from the 22nd MEU, USS Carter Hall, arrived in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, March 1, to participate in an agricultural wash-down of all equipment that assisted relief efforts ashore in Haiti. This process stops the possible spread of environmental hazards that could enter the U.S. The Marines and Sailors worked through the night of March 1, using pressure washers, scrub brushes and good old-fashioned elbow grease to remove all foreign items and soil from all of their military vehicles and equipment.

The USS Carter Hall is scheduled to return to the U.S. the second week of March, with the other two ships of the amphibious ready group slated to do the same process before mid-April.

Credit: 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit Public Affairs, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, March 1st, 2010

  • The first photo shows Cpl. Geoffrey M. Smith, a motor transportation operator with Transportation Support Platoon, Combat Logistics Battalion 22, 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, spraying down a seven-ton truck with a pressure washer during the washdown of USS Carter Hall, March 1, in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The washdown, a standard process that prevents foreign soil, agriculture and organisms from contaminating the U.S., marks the beginning of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group and 22nd Marine Expeditionary Units, withdrawal from Operation Unified Response in Haiti.
  • The second, third and fourth photos show a sailor from USS Carter Hall guiding a seven-ton truck onto a U.S. Army landing craft during the ship’s washdown.
  • The fifth photo shows a Sailor with USS Carter Hall guiding a U.S. Navy landing craft as it unloads vehicles and equipment from the ship during its washdown.
  • The sixth and seventh photo shows a seven-ton truck from USS Carter Hall backing onto a U.S. Army landing craft during the ship’s washdown.
  • The eighth photo shows a U.S. Army landing craft pulling up to a beach to unload equipment from USS Carter Hall during its washdown.
  • The final photo shows Cpl. Carlos J. Trujillo, a water support technician with Engineer Platoon, Combat Logistics Battalion 22, 22nd Marine Expeditionary Force, cleaning water purification equipment that was used to produce water during Operation Unified Response in Haiti at the washdown of the USS Carter Hall in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

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***Posted March 22nd, 2010

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