MAY 25, 2023 – Marines and Sailors from Task Force 61/2, commanded by Brig. Gen. Andrew Priddy, operating under U.S. Naval Forces Europe, U.S. Sixth Fleet, and U.S. European Command supported the U.S. Department of Defense’s humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts in Türkiye for over ten weeks, standing up a 24-hour crisis center, delivering hundreds of tons of aid, and standing up a field hospital.
In coordination with the Government of Türkiye and U.S. Agency for International Development the DoD concluded their earthquake relief support on May 3, 2023. Since Feb 6. the U.S. military, facilitated relief requests from our Turkish Ally by coordinating with USAID following the catastrophic earthquakes that tragically struck Türkiye and Syria.
Hours after the earthquake, U.S. Marines and Sailors from U.S. Naval Forces Europe, U.S. Sixth Fleet, Task Force 61/2 established a forward crisis response operations center, led by Brig. Gen. Andrew Priddy, at Incirlik Air Base, Türkiye, in close coordination with USAID and Turkish officials.
“Our U.S. military worked in support of Türkiye, our NATO ally, and hand-in-hand with our USAID and Embassy teams to provide critical relief support and material in the aftermath of such a horrific natural disaster,” said Adm. Stuart B. Munsch, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa. “I thank every Sailor, Marine, Soldier and Airmen involved for your steadfast commitment the people of Türkiye, a country known for its hospitality and for helping other countries during in their time of need.”
“From the moment we arrived, we understood the scope of devastation and our team came together immediately to support USAID in their efforts of providing humanitarian assistance to our ally Türkiye.” Brig. Gen. Andrew Priddy, commanding general, Task Force 61/2
The U.S. Air Force’s 39th Air Base Wing will continue to facilitate the flow of relief material through Incirlik Air Base, in continued coordination with Turkish officials and USAID. The seamless integration between the DoD and USAID was instrumental in delivering relief material across Türkiye.
“Our relationship with the DoD is strong,” said Stephen Allen, USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team Lead. “From the very beginning, we understood working with DoD was crucial because of the severity of the earthquakes.”
Allen added, “Our main role was to make sure we were looking at the capabilities of the U.S. Federal Government and that’s why our relationship with DoD was so critical because the DoD provided additional capabilities.”
“We knew we had to come together quickly,” said Brig. Gen. Andrew Priddy, commanding general, Task Force 61/2. “From the moment we arrived, we understood the scope of devastation and our team came together immediately to support USAID in their efforts of providing humanitarian assistance to our ally Türkiye.”
The U.S. military, along with U.S. allies and partners, delivered more than 35.2 million pounds of humanitarian aid to Incirlik Air Base. The task force’s aviation support, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, alone, flew critical humanitarian aid and delivery missions, transporting 573,250 pounds of aid throughout the devastated areas of Türkiye.
TF 61/2 and USAID also delivered 40,000 pounds of humanitarian assistance on 113 pallets from the USS Hershel “Woody” Williams to the Turkish Ministry of Interior’s Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency.
Additionally, TF 61/2 and Airmen from 633d Surgical Operations Squadron, Langley Air Force Base, and Medical Installation Support Team built and manned a 100-bed field hospital in Antakya, Türkiye.
“Being able to be in another country to help out people in need means a lot to me,” said Staff Sgt. Perseus Duites, U.S. Air Force paramedic, MIST. “I’m an immigrant from the Philippines who was aided by the United States Air Force after Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. This was my way of paying back a debt of honor.”
The field hospital is equipped with an emergency room, two operating rooms, and an intensive care unit. Along with the field hospital’s emergency care, it is capable of providing pediatric and gynecological care.
For more than 80 years, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-U.S. Naval Forces Africa has forged strategic relationships with allies and partners, leveraging a foundation of shared values to preserve security and stability.
Headquartered in Naples, Italy, NAVEUR-NAVAF operates U.S. naval forces in the U.S. European Command and U.S. Africa Command areas of responsibility. U.S. Sixth Fleet is permanently assigned to NAVEUR-NAVAF, and employs maritime forces through the full spectrum of joint and naval operations.
By Capt. MacKenzie Margroum
Marine Corps Forces Europe