Home' Air Force News : May 12th 2011 Contents 5
May 12, 2011
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OY THEINVESTING EXPERI
LCDR Priya Chandra
TEN days of sweat, blood and hard work
in Tonga have come to an end for the
doctors, nurses, dentists, vets, techni-
cians and engineers of Pacific Partnership
2011, the 10-week humanitarian aid mis-
sion sponsored by the Commander US
The team of Australian Navy, Army
and Air Force personnel is embarked
alongside its counterparts aboard USS
During the Tongan visit, they con-
ducted basic health checks, treated afflic-
tions ranging from diabetes to aches and
pains, gave out reading glasses, issued
medications to ease pain, extracted
severely decayed teeth, and performed
surgery on animals large and small.
Thousands of patients, both the two
and four-legged variety, were seen at a
number of different sites around Vava'u.
Some of the remote island communities
do not see a vet often and so the avail-
ability of such a rare specialist service
was crucial to the agricultural industry in
The team also refurbished school
buildings, installed water tanks and reno-
vated community centres.
The commander of the Australian
contingent on board Cleveland, CMDR
Ashley Papp, said the assistance of the
Tongan Defence Services had been inval-
uable, providing technical assistance and
local knowledge, guides, translators and
"The satisfaction we have expe-
rienced from our short but significant
effort is overshadowed by the continuing
fortitude of the Tongan people and the
need of some of these remote communi-
ties for the basics of food and economic
security, good health and family sup-
port," he said.
The hospitality and welcoming
attitude of the Tongan population was
overwhelming with locals providing the
Pacific Partnership members with vol-
untary translation services, traditional
feasts and even opening their homes as
make-shift veterinarian surgeries.
One of the Air Force members
to sample the local hospitality was
advanced medical assistant LACW
"The last 10 days have been a very
ence, and one that I
will not quickly for-
get," she said.
enlisted in 2006.
She was already a
Nurse, having com-
pleted her training
at Bathurst Base
Hospital in NSW, but
said she was looking
to do something dif-
"I really like doing something out of
the ordinary that I couldn't do in a civil-
ian job," LACW Boucher said.
"Helping out people who are so much
less fortunate than us is a really reward-
There are currently 41 ADF engi-
neers, doctors, nurses, technicians, a vet
and the Navy survey team deployed on
Pacific Partnership. Their next ports of
call will be Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea,
East Timor and the Federated States of
The deployment will take four
GUESTS OF HONOUR: Above, advanced medical assistant LACW Benita
Boucher is thanked in traditional style by girls from Neiafu Primary School,
and left, Pacific Partnership members fill their plates at the feast provided
by the local community at the closing ceremony in Tonga.Photos: LS Helen Frank
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