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COME, HAVE PEACE [CONTINUED FROM PAGE 55]


tary for very specific capabilities it cannot get elsewhere. For example, if heavy airlift is needed, USAID will look to the military for assistance — all in the name of U.S foreign policy. In 2010, the 26th Marine Expedi-


tionary Unit (MEU), based in Camp Lejeune, N.C., deployed a week ahead of schedule. USAID needed the heavy lift of the Marines’ helicopters in flood-devastated Pakistan. Their sud- den departure was as unexpected as the disaster that hit the nation they were tasked to assist. Record-setting rainfall from late July monsoons put one-fifth of Pakistan underwater and devastated the lives of nearly 20 mil- lion people. Floodwaters did not begin to recede until mid-September. In the meantime, washed-out roads and deep standing water trapped sur- vivors; the only way to reach them with food and other supplies was via air. Many saw the disaster as an op- portunity for local Taliban. The MEU’s main body traveled on


board the USS Kearsarge (LHD-3), but the Marines disassembled four CH53-Es and packed them in Air Force C-17s, which flew the aircraft and their crews to the beleaguered nation. The Marines’ helicopters were reassembled in Afghanistan and sitting, ready to work, in Pakistan by early September. Though the disas- ter had reached a deadly crescendo, there were no definitive missions for the Marines to fly. According to CH53-E pilot Marine Capt. Alyssa Saunders, they used satellite imagery and visual reconnaissance to find areas most in need. “We flew to see who needed help. I had never seen anything like what we saw,” she says. After a week, the Pakistan govern- ment and World Food Program were passing along to the pilots locations to deliver supplies. “We flew two to four trips each day, depending on the distance,” [CONTINUES ON PAGE 79]


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