Tuesday, February 1, 2005

Boxes of high-energy biscuits were among the food items delivered to Indonesia and Sri Lanka by the C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft piloted by Lt. Cmdr. Brad Sultzer.

Aviators end
tsunami mission

Coast Guard crews from Barbers
Point ferried relief supplies

Eight Coast Guard crew members are back at Barbers Point tired but fulfilled after helping earthquake and tsunami victims for nearly a month in southern Asia.

"I've been in the Coast Guard for 27 years. I've never seen crew members more motivated," said Lt. Cmdr. Brad Sultzer, pilot of the C-130 plane that returned Sunday.

"Everybody felt it was a privilege to do it. We wanted to stay until the very last person got what they needed," Sultzer said.

The eight-member crew from Barbers Point was part of a 40-member Coast Guard team that included personnel from Sacramento, Calif., Elizabeth, N.C., and Clearwater, Fla.

The Hawaii crew completed 70 missions and flew more than 200 hours distributing thousands of pounds of food and medical supplies in Sri Lanka and Indonesia, Sultzer said.

They hauled about 300,000 pounds of cargo that included 20,000 pounds of fresh fish, 14,000 pounds of fresh vegetables and chicken, 15,000 pounds of high-energy biscuits and 12,000 pounds of milk.

About 12,000 pounds of malaria medication was also transported to the affected countries.

A second C-130 that also participated in the mission arrived early yesterday and is expected to fly back to Sacramento today.

Sultzer said he and other crew members were immersed in their missions every day.

"The people in Sri Lanka were very, very welcoming. They were thankful that we were there," he said.

Sultzer added the people of the affected countries continue to suffer because of the extensive damage caused by the massive tsunami.

"It's such a great scale of damage," he said, noting the rising death toll. "It's really going to be a nation-building effort."

Three forensic teams from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command recently returned to Hawaii after spending a month in southern Asia to assist in identifying victims killed in the tsunamis.

The Hawaii-based teams, who were deployed to the affected countries soon after the tsunami, joined about 30 other international teams to assist in identification.

Sgt. 1st Class Michael Henshaw, noncommissioned officer-in-charge of the second forensic team, said he was honored that his team was able to help bring closure to families that lost loved ones in the tsunami.

"This is the largest humanitarian forensic effort we have been involved in to date," said Andrew Tyrell, lab manager and forensic anthropologist.

East-West Center Tsunami Relief page
American Red Cross Hawaii
Red Cross survivor locator
Pacific Tsunami Warning Center

U.S. Pacific Command

E-mail to City Desk


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