NEWS | Sept. 13, 2021

Task Force Koa Moana Completes Palau Aircraft Rescue & Fire Fighting Station Support

By Sgt. Marvin Lopeznavarro I Marine Expeditionary Force

AIRAI, Palau -- The mission of the station is to provide aircraft rescue, fire response, emergency medical services and to respond to any potential COVID-19 outbreaks reported at the Palau International Airport. Their facility also serves as the staging area for the COVID-19 medical response packages donated to the Republic of Palau by the World Health Organization.

“We are in the life saving business,” said Dwayne Masami, the Aircraft Rescue & Fire Fighting chief. “We train and prepare ourselves to deal with aircraft and medical emergencies”

The Palau Aircraft Rescue & Fire Fighting Station, sometimes referred to as the ARFF for short, truck garage is currently the designated storage area for the COVID-19 medical supplies due to the size and security of the facility, but the lack of space makes it difficult for the ARFF team to do their job efficiently.

Engineers with Task Force Koa Moana extended an existing concrete pad with 20'x30 foot sectioned-off pads, which will serve as a staging area for containers donated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This will allow the ARFF to securely store all of their medical supplies and eliminate the need to use their garage as a warehouse.

“The most challenging part about this project was working in the inclement weather, but the Marines adapted really well and were able to get the project done quickly,” said U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Jesus B. Graves, a combat engineer platoon sergeant with Task Force Koa Moana 21, I Marine Expeditionary Force.

Now complete, the challenging project will help the people of Palau for years to come.
“Being able to safely store these medical supplies will allow us to help out more Palauans in a medical emergency or during a natural disaster,” said Masami. “I like seeing Marines in Palau. They support the economy, and it reinforces the friendship that the United States and Palauans have.”

Task Force Koa Moana 21 plans on conducting additional engineering projects in the Republic of Palau to reaffirm its commitment to the Compact of Free Association and to enhance interoperability when responding to potential humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.

“It feels great to be able to work together with the people of Palau and provide them with more capabilities to respond to medical emergencies and natural disasters,” Graves said.

Task Force Koa Moana 21 is a unifying mission that fosters enduring cooperation between the United States and the Republic of Palau. The task force is designed to support the development of partner-nation capabilities and improve their readiness ahead of a real world crisis.