Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii. (October 23, 2022): It was the scene of some of the bloodiest fighting during the Vietnam War and a famous stand by South Vietnamese and American troops against overwhelming enemy strength. The Battle for Quang Tri Province was a four-and-a-half-month battle that cost the Vietnamese Army 977 killed and scores wounded before they retook the city. It is ironic that Quang Tri Province, Vietnam would serve as host for Pacific Angel exercises with the goal of saving, not taking, lives.
Led by the U.S. 13th Air Force based at Hickam Field, Hawaii, the Pacific Angel exercises began in 2007 with a simple mission… use our vast military resources to promote life and health, even among our former foes. Since then, Pacific Angel has had a positive impact on tens of thousands of lives by providing both health services and civil engineering expertise to developing countries in the Pacific region.
In Vietnam, for instance, American medical personnel conduct clinics to deliver primary care, optometry, physical therapy, pediatrics, and dental care to needy residents while improving the ability of local governments to provide such care.
On the engineering side, U.S. combat engineers, construction specialists, and plumbers fan out to assist local governments to build or refurbish public buildings and to improve water and sanitation. These civil action projects often include building schools, health clinics, and installing water and waste treatment facilities while sharing best practices to help the community maintain these improvements.
In the end, American and Vietnamese alike are moved by the compassion that can develop among nations, even former enemies. Tran Thi Minh Huong, national coordinator of the East Meets West Foundation, said it best.
"It's very important to Vietnamese people to know that the American people and the U.S. government came here to help improve the living conditions of Vietnamese people, it's very appreciated."
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