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U.S. Navy Sailors: Compassion and Strength on the ground in Haiti

Lt. Lesley Lykins talks about some of the stories coming out of the Navy in Haiti, and how they are being shared on social networks.

Ed. Note: In addition to the post below, take a look at some photos and footage courtesy of the Navy.

America's young Sailors are serving with compassion and strength alongside their multi-agency partners as they distribute food, water, medical help and shelter to the Haitian people.

The U.S. Navy has 14 ships and 58 aircraft on station in the vicinity of Haiti and has provided over 1.4 million bottles of water, 36,433 pounds of medical supplies, 888,700 meals.  And today USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), USS Bataan (LHD 5) and USNS Comfort (T-AH-20) are treating 595 patients aboard.

The experiences of these men and women are being shared first-hand through social media sites, like the official U.S. Navy Facebook page and the USS Bataan Twitter account.  It is hope, compassion and determination that is most apparent in the testimonials and images coming from all participants - commanding officers to junior Sailors.

Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman (SW/AW/FMF) Brian E. Wenzel, assigned to Fleet Surgical Team 8 aboard USS Bataan shared his early impression upon the ship's arrival in support of Operation Unified Response:

"Just winding down from our first real mass casualty; 19 patients. Many crush injuries, open fractures, head trauma and infection. We have about 6 children on board now and they are the most beautiful children, I can't even describe the look in their eyes when they see us," said Wenzel.  "Fortunately, we have quite a few Marines and Sailors from Haiti and the communication was very good for us today. The rest of the CRTS [Crisis Response Team-Surgical] augment arrived almost minutes after this kicked off.  These folks have traveled from the west coast, had very little sleep in the airport at GITMO [Guantanamo Bay Naval Station] for two nights and endured the helicopter flight to us this morning - all on about 6 hrs of sleep and very little food. Yet not a one complained and every one of them gave 100% during this organized chaos. I can imagine they are ready to crash just about anywhere.  Man, what an effort by over a 100 people who had never worked a day in their lives together. That's all for now. Who knows when the next ones will come."

Besides medical help, our military personnel are playing an indispensable role in making the logistics chain possible and distributing life-saving assistance.  On Jan. 21 significant steps were made by the Navy/Marine Corps team completely clearing obstructions from a major highway and establishing a location to bring supplies ashore using amphibious vehicles. 

Capt. Thomas Negus, Commander of the Bataan Amphibious Relief Mission, continues to update families and followers through constant tweets and social media updates.

"Our folks are working feverishly to find any and everyone who may need our help," said Negus.  "Access to these people remains a challenge, but we are pushing through to help those in need.  You can all take great pride in the work being done by your Navy, Marine and Coast Guard

Lt. Lesley Lykins, United States Navy