By Maj. Gen. Simeon Trombitas
Trombitas is serving in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, as the commander of Joint Task Force-Haiti. He is also the commander of United States Army South in San Antonio, Texas.
While April 22 marked 100 days of Operation Unified Response, one of the first US military units to arrive and provide assistance after the earthquake prepares to depart from Haiti April 27. After their more than 90 day deployment in austere conditions, the “White Falcons”, 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, recently began redeployment operations to prepare for their return back to Fort Bragg, N.C.
Operating as one of the major units that worked hand-in-hand with the Haitian people on a daily basis, the WhiteFalcons’ Paratroopers provided selfless service to the people of Haiti and the international aid community. In their operations, the unit completed a variety of tasks to include the distribution of emergency supplies during the early days of humanitarian assistance, facilitating rubble removal and housing assessments and assisting in the engineering effort that mitigated the negative effects of weather. Assisting with the relocation of Haitians from many overcrowded Internally Displaced Person camps throughout Port-au-Prince, the White Falcons potentially saved countless lives through their kind and quick action.
These outstanding ambassadors of good will also conducted more than 700 individual humanitarian assistance missions during their short time here to include supporting both surges of aid distribution for the World Food Program. Overall, the White Falcons distributed more than 2 million meals-ready-to-eat, 3 million pounds of rice, 27 thousand family meal packages, 3 thousand gallons of cooking oil, 24 thousand bottles of water, 5 thousand gallons of bulk water and 26 thousand tents.
These Soldiers, like the majority of our Army, were training and preparing to deploy for combat missions until they were called upon for an entirely different mission. While our troops are not specifically trained in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations, these Soldiers were able to adapt to the environment quickly. They applied their experiences from previous operations in Iraq and Afghanistan to an equally complex mission and performed in an exceptional manner – saving lives and alleviating human suffering.
Fulfilling their missions in humanitarian assistance, I am proud to have served with these versatile professionals who were able to shift their focus from training for a combat environment to showing the compassion and care required to provide assistance during Haiti’s critical hour of need. The White Falcons have added another chapter of proud service to the history of the 82nd Airborne Division. ATW!