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Friday, April 9, 2010

Philippines Air Force commander recognizes U.S. efforts in Southern Philippines

By Lt. Cmdr. John Perkins, Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines Public Affairs

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Republic of the Philippines – The commanding general of the Philippine Air Force recognized the humanitarian efforts of U.S. military members serving in the southern Philippines during a celebration at Edwin Andrews Air Base (EAAB) April 7.

Lt. Gen. Oscar Rabena, Commanding General, Philippine Air Force (PAF), presented an award to the U.S. military representative, Lt. Cmdr. Kent Tranter, during the PAF’s 3rd Air Division (AD) 26th Founding Anniversary held on the parade grounds at EAAB.

“Your contribution to the security and people of Mindanao cannot be underestimated,” said Rabena, as he addressed the four representatives who received an appreciation plaque during the ceremony.

“You have helped bring us closer and win the hearts of our local residents,” added General Rabena. The other three plaques were given to the Philippine Medical Association, Office of the City Environment and Natural Resources and a reporter from national broadcast network ABS-CBN.

Rabena presented Tranter a plaque to recognize the efforts of Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P) during a Health Fair hosted March 16 on EAAB. Teaming up with community leaders and local and PAF medical providers, JSOTF-P helped the 3rd AD provide free medical treatment and medication to more than 700 local residents and PAF families.

“It is an honor and a privilege to receive recognition from the top commander of the Philippine Air Force,” said Tranter, a Navy helicopter pilot and deputy commander of Joint Special Operations Air Division who led JSOTF-P planning for the health fair.

“This plaque is not for me, it is for everyone who had a small part in making the health fair a success,” said Tranter, who is on a temporary six-month tour in the Philippines. The Jackson, Mo. native helped coordinate the contribution of two doctors, one physician’s assistant, one nurse, three hospital corpsmen, and more than 30 volunteers from JSOTF-P.

The health fair was a method for the PAF 3rd AD and JSOTF-P to reach out to local barangays (neighborhoods) and further the Philippine and United States mission of providing safe communities in Mindanao.

“It is nice to see those who need medical assistance get help. Even though we only provided minor health care, this care made a big difference in their lives and hopefully improved their perception of the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” Tranter said. “It was also great to hand out backpacks and school supplies to the kids and see the smiles on their faces,” he added.

“We provide community service in terms of reassuring the community of our dedication to bring peace and prosperity to all of Philippines,” said Edwin Andrews Air Base Hospital Commanding Officer, Lt. Col. Edgar Ventura.

As with many regions in Mindanao, local residents do not have easy access to many medical services. The 3rd AD leaders and medical staff, teaming up with ten barangays and the U.S. military, identified airman families and residents to receive a variety of medical services.

Medical missions such as the health fair are a key component of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) establishing a long-standing bond with the communities it serves, with JSOTF-P support.

“The health fair is a wonderful example of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and United States working side by side to improve the welfare and quality of life for people here,” said Army Col. William Coultrup, Commander, JSOTF-P.

“The plaque symbolizes the appreciation for the two countries’ partnership and desire to provide a lasting peace in Mindanao,” said Coultrup.

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