SUAI, Timor-Leste -- Service members from the United States, Timor-Leste, Australia, the United Kingdom, Indonesia and the Philippines joined forces in Suai, Timor-Leste, for Pacific Angel (PAC ANGEL) 18-1, June 11, 2018.
Now entering its 11th year, PAC ANGEL ensures that regional allies and partners are prepared to work together in a humanitarian crises. During the exercise, military personnel and local non-governmental organizations will provide humanitarian assistance to the residents of Suai, Cova Lima Municipality, southwest Timor-Leste.
“I’m so grateful to be a part of this mission, and right away we’ve noticed just how appreciative the Timorese are for our presence here—it’s truly humbling,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Damian Sharpe, the 18th Medical Operations Squadron (MDOS) family health noncommissioned officer in-charge, Kadena Air Base (AB), Japan. “This PAC ANGEL is a once in a lifetime experience for me, and I look forward to the cultural exchanges with the Timorese as well as the Australians and other participating partner nations. I’m learning and absorbing as much as I can from everyone I meet on this mission, and I can’t wait to start seeing patients.”
Sharpe joins a team of specialists from the Indo-Pacific region including general health practitioners, dentists, optometrists, pediatricians and engineers.
“The most rewarding part of this experience is the relationships I’ve built with the military members and the health care workers who are doing the ground work here,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Benjamin Weir, 18th MDOS public health operations chief.
Nazario Dos Santos, the Suai Referral Hospital general medicine director, said the information he learned from the PAC ANGEL team will help his staff treat those living in Suai even after the event concludes.
“We’ve learned how the U.S. treats diseases like obesity, diabetes and heart conditions, which as our country progresses are becoming real issues,” Santos said. “It was great talking with the U.S. medical officer as we shared what works for us here and they shared what they’re doing in the states. I think we can learn a lot from each other and help each other be healthier as a whole.”
Santos explained that diabetes laboratory results take two to three weeks to arrive from Dili, the capital of Timor Leste. Due to the delay, some patients die before treatment. Now the training and materials to diagnose, conduct laboratory work and treat a patient are readily available.
“PAC ANGEL helps us sustain the relationships we’ve built with the people of Timor-Leste and other multinational partners in the Indo-Pacific region,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Catherine Grush, the PAC ANGEL 18-1 mission commander. “We do this through exercises, civil military operations, and military and medical exchanges, which help preserve peace and stability in the region.”
This is the first of four humanitarian assistance PAC ANGEL 18 engagements. Later this summer, PACAF will conduct three additional Pacific Angels in Vietnam, Vanuatu and Sri Lanka.