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Indonesian Villages receive shelter from Dragons

14 Oct 2009 | Lance Cpl. Michael A. Bianco

A CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter transported 45 shelter supply boxes to the village of Hula Banda, Oct. 11, during humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations to the people of Indonesia. 

The “Dragons,” of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 265 Reinforced (HMM-265 REIN), 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), transported the boxes that were donated by ShelterBox, an international disaster relief charity, specializing in emergency shelter provisions.

According to Tom Henderson, chief executive and founder of company, the focus of ShelterBox is to deliver immediate and adequate shelter during a crisis; while maintaining the dignity of people in mind.

The Cornwall, U.K. citizen explained that the “ShelterBox” contains mosquito nets, waterproof ponchos and ground mats, a children’s activity pack, a toolkit, stove and cooking equipment, thermal fleece blankets, a custom-designed 10-person tent, collapsible water containers and water purifying equipment.

Each shelter is specifically tailored to the needs of the people, nature and location of the disaster. The kits are also designed to sustain an extended family of 10, for up to six months.

Service members participating in relief efforts believe “ShelterBoxes” help provide people with what they need to start and sustain the reconstruction of their lives.

“ShelterBox has been one of our best item delivered,” said Lt. Cmdr. Ian Johnston, the air operations center director for Tactical Squadron 12.  The Charlotte, N.C. native added, “They have a huge and (immediate) impact and we are lucky to provide air support to deliver them (fast to the people in affected areas).”

In addition to shelters being delivered; food and other supplies have also been transported using the CH-53E super stallion helicopter.

Capt. Christopher Healy a native from Freeport, NY, and acting operations officer for the detachment of the 31st MEU, elaborated by saying that since the beginning of their participation in the humanitarian assistance/disaster relief (HA/DR) effort on Oct. 9, the helicopters have transported more than 90,000 pounds of food, construction tools and living supplies.

And while the mission requires long hours and extensive coordination, the Indonesian military forces, non-government organizations (NGO), and U.S. Marine and sailors, are dedicated and will continue work together to provide critical supplies to affected areas.  

31st Marine Expeditionary Unit