TACLOBAN, Philippines –
With wind and rain from the outer bands of Typhoon Rammasun pelting the area, Pacific Partnership 2014 (PP14) held its closing ceremony July 15 in a local establishment that still bears the scars from Typhoon Haiyan.
Although the weather was less than ideal, those in attendance were determined to give Pacific Partnership a proper ceremony.
"I'm amazed at the resiliency of the people here," Pacific Partnership's mission commander, U.S. Navy Capt. Brian Shipman, said. "Even after all they've been through they continue to persevere, they continue to rebuild, and they continue to smile."
Among the speakers at the ceremony were the Philippine Army's Maj. Gen. Lysander Suerte, deputy chief of staff for civil-military operations; Brig. Gen. Rolando Malinao, assistant division of the 8th Infantry Division; and Alfred Romualdez, Tacloban's mayor. The three thanked all involved with this year's PP14 mission and expressed the importance of continued engagements with partner nations.
"The Philippines has been the most enjoyable and successful engagement because not only are we passing on subject matter expertise with our Filipino colleagues, but given the devastation of the typhoon, we have been able to help the community with our medical and engineering engagements," said Australian Army Lt. Col. John Cronin, Pacific Partnership 2014 chief of staff.
The 10-day PP14 Philippines mission conducted professional medical exchanges, provided basic medical, dental, and optometry clinics, medical knowledge exchange seminars and veterinary surgical and vaccination services, as well as four engineering projects.
"We had veterinarian technicians working to prevent rabies illness, preventative medicine specialist that helped promote public health, and we also gave lectures on different topics," said Cmdr. Steven Romero, the PP14 medical officer in charge.
Symposiums and subject matter exchanges addressed emergency medicine, infectious disease, cardiology, pediatrics, microbiology, occupational medicine physical therapy and biomedical engineering.
"I have seen a really grateful response," Cronin said of the local community and the mission's Philippine hosts. "I am grateful that we have been working with them and for them in projects that they needed."
This was the last phase of PP14, which also provided assistance in Vietnam and Cambodia, operating from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force ship JS Kunisaki (LST 4003). A simultaneous airborne phase took place earlier in Indonesia and Timor-Leste.
Pacific Partnership is in its ninth iteration and is the largest annual multilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission conducted in the Asia-Pacific region.