SANTA MERCEDES, Republic of the Philippines --
Many communities throughout the Philippines are extremely secluded and lack even basic necessities like running water and electricity. Recently, service members from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit and their Philippine counterparts provided aid to the isolated fishing village of Santa Mercedes.
Armed forces of the Philippines and CLB-31 service members provided the nearly 2,000 villagers with medical and dental care, and donated school supplies to the children.
“I will never forget this day, said Macario Linantud, a Santa Mercedes village elder. “It’s the first time we’ve had Americans here and I am very grateful to see them, thank you very much.”
The morning began with service members checking patients’ vital signs. Then, with the help of translators, doctors spoke to patients to find out what was wrong.
Each step of the process had its own specified area. The stations included a patient assessment area, medical care, dental care and a temporary pharmacy, where the patients were able to get free medication.
Providing aid to a village like Santa Mercedes can be difficult without proper logistical assets, but the 31st MEU has trained continuously to support such requests and also conducted three real-world missions last year.
“Through the joint and combined efforts of the Philippine Air Force and Marine Corps, and U.S. Marine Corps and Navy, we’re thankful for the ability to come here and assist this community with a medical mission,” said Maj. Dave Rosenberg, 31st MEU Civil Affairs Team Leader.
Chief Emeterio Donato, a corpsman with CLB-31 and Philippine native, remembers receiving his first vaccination at a medical civil assistance project as a child and is honored to be able to help the children today.
“I think it’s pretty cool that I was able to receive medical care from a MEDCAP when I was young and now have the opportunity to provide the same care to the next generation,” Donato said.
The 31st MEU is the U.S.’s only continuously forward-deployed MEU and together with the Essex Amphibious Ready Group, is responsible for responding to any crises in the Asia-Pacific region. For more photos and the latest news from the 31st MEU, visit the MEU’s Facebook site at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Okinawa-Japan/31st-Marine-Expeditionary-Unit/115253045176016.