Washington, D.C. – House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) delivered the following remarks during consideration of H. Res. 1066, recognizing the bravery and efforts of the United States Armed Forces, local first responders, and other members of Operation Unified Response for their swift and coordinated action in light of the devastation wrought upon the nation of Haiti after a horrific 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Port-Au-Prince and surrounding cities on January 12, 2010:
“Madam Speaker, I rise today in support of House Resolution 1066, recognizing the bravery and efforts of the United States Armed Forces, local first responders and all those involved with Operation Unified Response. I want to thank my colleagues for bringing this important measure before the House.
“On January 12 th, a massive earthquake struck the nation of Haiti that was followed by a series of very powerful aftershocks that left catastrophic damage in and around the city of Port-au-Prince. The devastation resulted in an estimated 100,000-200,000 deaths, including over 100 Americans reported dead and 3 million Haitians directly affected by the earthquake.
“The United States acted immediately, setting up a whole-of-government response with U.S Agency for International Development in the lead, and the Armed Forces playing a leading role. Within 24 hours, the U.S had deployed Air Force special operations forces to secure the Port-au-Prince airport and re-establish airport operations, deployed the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, and started preparing both Army and Marine units for immediate deployment to the region.
“Within two weeks, the United States had deployed 25 Navy and Coast Guard ships, 79 helicopters, 290 vehicles, and 21,493 U.S. Armed Forces personnel. Military medical assets had treated over 4,000 patients of which 2,000 were treated aboard the hospital ship USNS Comfort. The U.S had distributed 1.9 million bottles of water, 1.7 million meals, and over 74,000 pounds of medical supplies.
“This critical contribution to the Haiti relief effort comes at a time when the men and women of our military are already being stretched by two wars. Our troops have once again demonstrated their capability to respond quickly and effectively when disaster strikes.
“U.S. military service members and their families make tremendous sacrifices, both for our nation and in working to help people in times of need all over the world. On behalf of Congress, I want to thank our heroes in uniform and all those involved in Operation Unified Response for their extraordinary contributions to the Haitian people. I urge my colleagues to support this important resolution and I reserve the balance of my time.”