ATLANTIC OCEAN (NNS) — Sailors and Marines attached to the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group were awarded the Humanitarian Service Medal for providing initial disaster relief in 2017 following Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
The amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) and transport dock ship USS New York (LPD 21) steamed off the coast of Key West, Florida, providing immediate aid to locals until federal and state authorities could take over long-term operations in Irma’s aftermath.
From Sept. 11 to 16, the efforts of the two ships, Fleet Surgical Team 8, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 28, Tactical Air Control Squadron 22, components of Naval Beach Group 2 and the embarked staff of commander, Amphibious Squadron 4 left a positive impact on the devastated city. The Iwo Jima ARG and Marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit cleared debris from roadways, distributed food and water, repaired generators and other critical infrastructure, such as water-pumping stations.
“I’m proud of the determination and passion our Sailors and Marines showed in helping our fellow Americans during a time of hardship and tragedy,” said Capt. Jack Killman, commodore, PHIBRON 4. “They worked long days on short rest and always showed a commitment to do more.”
USS Oak Hill’s (LSD 51) crew also received awards for their response to the damage left by Irma and Maria in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The dock landing ship and embarked 26th MEU spent September and most of October at sea helping move route-clearing equipment ashore to assist in opening roads that allowed basic necessities to reach people across the territories.