Monday, November 27, 2006

Proof of a Positive Impact in Gode, Ethiopa

November 20, 2006
Story by SSgt Anne O’Neill
Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa.

GODE, Ethiopia – One man’s return to Gode is positive proof of Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa success in eastern Ethiopia. The story began when U.S. Navy Master Chief Andrew Smith spent four months in the sometimes-austere Ogaden region from April to the end of July this year.

During his time at Contingency Operating Location Gode, he served as the noncommissioned officer in charge. Smith oversaw the support for humanitarian missions in the region.

U.S. Navy Master Chief Petty Officer Andrew Smith greets old friends at the former COL Gode, Ethiopia. U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Philip A. Fortnam. U.S. Navy Master Chief Petty Officer Andrew Smith greets old friends at the former COL Gode, Ethiopia. Master Chief Smith participated in a humanitarian mission airlifting flood relief supplies to Gode when he had the opportunity meet old friends from COL Gode. An Air Force C-130H Hercules aircraft assigned to Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) delivered humanitarian aid to flood victims in the Ogaden region of Ethiopia. U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Philip A. Fortnam.

Some of these projects included building improvements on clinics, schools, dormitories, medical civic affairs projects and veterinary civic affairs projects. Work also included a new irrigation system, a new clinic in Kunka Village and two new school buildings in Badal Segal. People of CJTF-HOA also provided employment to surrounding villagers and boosted the local economy, providing people a much-needed source of income.

So it was a welcome-home party of sorts when Smith participated in relief flight support for the Gode region Nov. 10. This time, an U.S. Air Force C-130 cargo plane delivered food and relief supplies to flood victims there. Smith served as the assistant commander and oversaw the logistics of moving a lot of materials in a short time.

The people of CJTF-HOA made several deliveries in a two-day operation and delivered 23 pallets of supplies such as food, high energy biscuits, rice, water containers, plastic sheeting, bedding and water purification materials.

The supplies were donated by Ethiopia's Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Agency, and U.S. Agency for International Development. The DPPA representative in Gode is in charge of disbursing the supplies from the Airfield to the affected areas.

For Smith, returning to Gode was quite a unique experience.

“Going back there was sort of a small homecoming,” Smith said. “I had wondered if we had a positive impact on their lives. When we landed there we were pleasantly surprised. People who remembered me came from all over to shake my hand, some came from miles away.”

“Flying in the C-130 and getting to look out and see the amount of flooding, it was easy to see why they were in need,” he said. “They were extremely displaced from food and water.”

Ethiopia's DPPA said the flooding had killed at least 80 people and left more than 217,000 homeless in the Ogaden region of Ethiopia. In total, more than 360,000 people were affected.

“It was a great mission to be on for two reasons,” Smith concluded. “The first part was delivering supplies to people in need. The second best part of the mission was being thanked [by local citizens] for the work we did there from April to the end of July.”

ORIGINALLY POSTED @ DoD Daily News-2.

Cross-posted @ Rosemary's News and Ideas.