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VFA-82 Sailors Support Operation Unified Assistance

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS050124-12
Release Date: 1/24/2005 5:17:00 PM

By Lt. Perry Solomon, Strike Fighter Squadron 82 Public Affairs

ABOARD USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN, At Sea (NNS) -- Members of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 82, embarked aboard USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), supported Operation Unified Assistance in January, providing food and supplies to the disaster victims on the island of Sumatra, Indonesia.

Sailors and officers from VFA-82 are lent their strong backs and energy to help load relief supplies onto helicopters from Lincoln and other ships in the region. They carried five-gallon jugs of water, boxes of rations and 50-pound bags of rice across a soccer field that had become the improvised helicopter landing zone.

"On average, we loaded about 100,000 pounds of food and water each day that I was ashore," said Lt. Adrian Jope. "Working in the mud and the rain - it was the most rewarding experience of my naval career."

Lincoln sent a working party ashore every day to facilitate the loading of the helicopters in Banda Aceh. VFA-82 Sailors looked forward to their turn in the rotation to be a part of the relief operations and help the disaster victims.

"The work is hard and it is incredibly hot there, but every Sailor I saw had a smile on his face knowing that he was helping out someone in need," said Senior Chief Aviation Electronics Technician (AW/SW) Daniel Stocker after returning from a long day ashore.

The Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group will remain on station at least through the month of January, and continue to support humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations in the area.

"For now, our mission has changed to that of helping the victims of this massive natural disaster," said VFA-82's Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Devon Jones. "The men and women of VFA-82 have stepped up and have been voluntarily going ashore to provide relief, in whatever ways deemed necessary, to our fellow man. I could not be more proud."

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