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NEWS | April 17, 2024

U.S. Coast Guard conducts medical evacuation and delivers drought relief in Federated States of Micronesia

By Chief Warrant Officer Sara Muir, U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia / Sector Guam

Following a high-profile rescue of three mariners from Pikelot Atoll, the U.S. Coast Guard, operating through the USCGC Oliver Henry (WPC 1140) and coordinated by U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam with U.S. Embassy and USAID partners, continued their vital service in the Pacific by conducting a critical medical evacuation and delivering more than 15,000 lbs. of essential drought relief supplies to several island communities from April 9 – 13, 2024.

"This past week, the crew demonstrated profound capability and compassion," said Lt. Ray Cerrato, commanding officer of the Oliver Henry. "The little moments of true empathy—from CS1 Pablo, our ship's cook and a certified EMT, who cared for the boy during our overnight transit, to GM2 and MKC, who gave up their own sleeping quarters so that the boy's parents could rest— really reflect the deep humanity and commitment of our team. It's personal, and they make these sacrifices without second thoughts. That is the true spirit of the Coast Guard."

Drought Relief Efforts:

From April 10 to 13, the USCGC Oliver Henry delivered drought relief supplies, including water, food, and reverse osmosis systems, to four outer island communities: Satawal, Woleai, Fais, and Ulithi, in a 1,200 nautical mile round trip across Yap State in FSM. This mission supported a request from the U.S. Embassy and in partnership with USAID and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), highlighting the U.S. commitment to providing essential aid and enhancing resilience against natural disasters in FSM.

"We take immense pride in our ability to execute complex operations and work effectively with our partners, as well as in bringing crucial water and supplies to remote communities affected by severe drought," said Cerrato. "The good news is, at pretty much all the islands we just visited it either started to rain as we were leaving, or it’s rained in the past 48 hours."

Annual rainfall in Yap is around 121 inches (3090 mm). Northeast tradewinds blow from November to May, resulting in less rain and lower humidity during these months. The National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office in Guam states extreme drought conditions persist across the Federated States of Micronesia and below-normal rainfall is still expected in the long-term for much of Yap State and Palau.

Medical Evacuation:

During the ongoing drought relief mission, the crew was again called to action on April 11 to assist a 9-year-old boy from Satawal who suffered a serious head injury in a fall from a tree. The medical evacuation occurred promptly, with the boy, accompanied by his parents and the cutter’s EMT, being transported to Woleai Atoll for enhanced care. Approximately 13 hours after boarding the USCGC Oliver Henry, the crew launched the small boat, and the guests from Satawal were transferred ashore at Woleai to board a Yap State government-chartered flight for further transport to a higher level of medical care in Yap.

"Search and Rescue is our no-fail mission, and the successful outcomes of these recent operations in Micronesia—rescuing stranded mariners and conducting a critical medical evacuation—prove this point. Beyond these life-saving actions, our commitment extends to addressing humanitarian challenges, many exacerbated by climate issues. Working in concert with partners like the U.S. Embassies, local governments, USAID, and IOM, each operation not only reinforces our readiness and resolve to save lives and safeguard our Pacific communities but also demonstrates our dedication to cooperation, providing comprehensive support in the face of diverse challenges," said Capt. Nicholas Simmons, commander of U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam.

-USCG-

About U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam:

U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam plays a critical role in promoting maritime safety, security, and environmental stewardship in the Pacific. The sector's capabilities are integral to executing a wide range of Coast Guard missions, from protecting the maritime economy and the environment to defending maritime borders and saving those in peril.