SANTA RITA, Guam -- An Air Station Barbers Point HC-130 Hercules aircrew conducted two flights repatriating Federated States of Micronesia citizens and delivering U.S. and foreign diplomats to Pohnpei International Airport on Thursday and Friday.
The flights were the first permitted by the Federated States of Micronesia to allow passengers to deplane since the country closed its borders in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On the flights were 43 Federated States of Micronesia citizens who returned home after spending more than a year away.
“The ability to safely bring Federated States of Micronesia citizens home highlights the humanitarian nature of our service.” said Capt. Christopher Chase, commander, Coast Guard Sector Guam. “Even through a global pandemic, the strength of our partnership with the FSM was demonstrated, through our ability to work together to effectively reunite families separated since borders closed in March of 2020.”
The operation began after U.S. Embassy Kolonia staff received an official request from the Federated States of Micronesia government seeking assistance repatriating its citizens who had been stranded outside the country due to the pandemic.
Embassy staff worked with Coast Guard Sector Guam personnel to coordinate the operation and the Hercules aircrew deployed from Hawaii to conduct the two flights.
“At Air Station Barbers Point we are always ready and willing to help our partner nations,” said Cmdr. Mark Pototschnik, executive officer, Air Station Barbers Point. “During this challenging COVID environment, we ensure the necessary precautions are in place for the safety of foreign nationals as well as our crews.”
Throughout the operation, Coast Guard personnel, U.S. Embassy Kolonia staff, and representatives from the Federated States of Micronesia government worked closely to ensure all COVID-19 safety protocols were followed.
All passengers had been in pre-travel quarantine since May 6, are fully vaccinated, and have negative COVID-19 test results. The passengers are undergoing an additional 7-day quarantine in the country.
*all dates and times are in Chamorro Standard Time.