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24th MEU, Nassau ARG complete Haiti work

By Dan Lamothe - Staff writer
Posted : Thursday Feb 11, 2010 6:03:06 EST

Thousands of Marines and sailors aboard three Navy ships have completed their relief work in earthquake-ravaged Haiti and will likely steam toward the Middle East in coming days.

The Nassau Amphibious Ready Group, including the North Carolina-based 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, was released from relief duty in Haiti on Sunday, U.S. Southern Command said in a news release. The ARG includes the amphibious assault ship Nassau, the amphibious transport dock ship Mesa Verde and the amphibious dock landing ship Ashland, all of which are expected to travel to the Central Command area of operations for a previously scheduled deployment.

The ships were diverted to Haiti to help with humanitarian aid after the island nation was rocked by a Jan. 12 earthquake, killing thousands of people and destroying the capital city, Port-au-Prince. They arrived off the coast of Haiti on Jan. 23, and the troops on board joined relief efforts that already included several other units, including the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group and accompanying 22nd MEU.

SouthCom officials said the Nassau ARG will be replaced in Haiti with about 2,000 logisticians from numerous Army installations. They will form a Joint Logistics Command that will transport donated supplies into Haiti using landing craft, heavy hauling vehicles and other equipment.

“This added logistical component will boost the ongoing relief efforts to help Haitian citizens overcome the effects of this disaster on their lives,” said Marine Brig. Gen. Michael Dana, senior humanitarian assistance and disaster relief advisor for SouthCom. “At this point in the international relief effort, logistics plays an important role in helping the humanitarian assistance efforts progress, and we are glad to help with this added capability.”

Marines from the 24th MEU delivered 8,783 bags of rice, 30,000 bottles of water, 117,000 individual meals and 2,600 pounds of medical supplies to earthquake survivors while in Haiti, U.S. officials said. Medical and dental personnel from the MEU also worked alongside Navy corpsmen to treat earthquake survivors, including 16 Haitians who were evacuated to the Nassau for treatment.

More than 2,500 sailors and 2,200 Marines from the Bataan ARG and 22nd MEU will remain off the coast of Haiti and continue providing humanitarian assistance, SouthCom officials said. The ARG arrived off the coast in Haiti on Jan. 18, and is expected to stay there for about 30 days.

Related reading

More coverage of Marines and sailors in Haiti

Gunnery Sgt. Robert Piper / Marine Corps Cpl. Andrew Smith, mortarman with 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, quells the crowd at a food distribution point in Carrefour, Haiti, on Feb. 4.

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