NEWS | June 21, 2018

Pacific Angel 18-1 Unsung Heroes Enabled Medics, Engineers in Timor-Leste

By Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Stratton 35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

SUAI, EAST TIMOR -- Logistics, contracting, finance, security, host nation lodging and contractors and many more make up a small team of unsung heroes who nearly a year before Pacific Angel 18-1 kicked off planning the mission with a site visit in January and again in March this year.

The logistics team worked non-stop ensuring they met all required transportation, food, lodging and supply requirements to keep the medical and engineering teams on site and on mission.

“Without us, no one would have the basic necessities of food, water and shelter,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Amy Stultz, the mission logistician with the 940th Aerospace Medicine Squadron from Beale Air Force Base, California. “They would not have the materials they need to accomplish their mission.”

Engagements like PAC ANGELs enable the U.S. military to strengthen its relationships with other nations’ militaries through mutually beneficial activities such as subject-matter expert exchanges, host nation visits, multilateral engagements and exercises.

“Everyone brings their own set of unique skills to the table and it takes everyone as a whole to operate as a well-oiled machine,” explained U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Justin Haggerty, the 18th Security Forces Squadron flight chief from Kadena Air Base, Japan.

“It’s all about coordination,” Haggerty continued. “I’m up first thing in the morning making sure the medics and engineers have transportation and that their sites are secure.”

Haggerty talked with the local police department and Timorese National Police as well as the 17 Timor-Leste Defense Force soldiers dedicated to protecting the PAC ANGEL teams.

“We make sure they’re in place at the HSO site to provide crowd and traffic control as well as just general security,” he said.

Never seen without the other, U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Simone Roberts, the 18th Comptroller Squadron mission support group resource advisor from Kadena Air Base, Japan, and U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Darrell Thornburgh, an 18th Contracting Squadron contracting officer also from Kadena, traveled from site to site tallying up lists of required equipment from each of the engineering and medical sites.

Without Roberts and Thornburgh constantly checking in with the teams and purchasing supplies from the local economy, each of the sites’ missions would fail.

“Our job is extremely important,” Roberts said. “We are up early and out there talking with vendors getting the engineers and medics all the supplies they need to help the community.”

The duo along with Stultz, Haggerty, and the local contractors made every effort to keep the medics and engineers focused and on course in their commitment to supporting Timor-Leste’s efforts to bring humanitarian assistance to their people.

“It’s fulfilling to say, ‘hey we were a part of this,’ and see it from start to execution and see how it impacts the Timorese here,” Roberts added.

Echoing Roberts, Stultz said missions like PAC ANGEL are the reason she remains in the Air Force today after more than 20 years of service.

“I love being able to travel and help people and underserved populations,” said Stultz. “I love coming out here and working with the people and just building those relationships that you know if we help in any small way you can leave here with a sense of pride.”

Similarly, Jomar Pagcaliwangan, the construction contractor director with PAC ANGEL 18-1 and Philippines native, said working with all the nations involved was an “amazing experience.”

“This has been a great opportunity to team up with PAC ANGEL to make the schools and hospitals better and give a better life to the children and the people living here in Suai,” Pagcaliwangan said. “My favorite part of this effort has been meeting the people on the PAC ANGEL team. I am sincerely thankful for partnership and the job where I got to help the team with this project and make an impact in so many lives.”

On the surface, PAC ANGEL 18-1 completed without any issues and that’s all thanks to the mission’s unsung heroes who established friendships with all the multilateral partners including Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines, the U.S. and host nation partners from Timor-Leste.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better behind-the-scenes crew,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Catherine Grush, the mission commander. “This team really are my unsung heroes. They’ve worked long, late hours, longer than the rest of the team in an ongoing effort to make sure the mission completes without any failures and they’ve done it—wonderfully.”

PAC ANGEL 18-1, at the invitation of the Government of Timor-Leste, provided support by conducting medical, dental, optometry and engineering programs. The team encountered nearly 5,500 patients at the health services outreach site and completed engineering projects at seven schools and hospitals.

“Their compassion and attention to detail is the reason this mission was so successful; I can’t imagine having worked with a better group of people,” Grush added.