Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty: Continuing Promise 2015

Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) is anchored off the coast of Port Au Prince, Haiti in support of Continuing Promise 2015. Continuing Promise is a U.S. Southern Command-sponsored and U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet-conducted deployment to conduct civil-military operations including humanitarian-civil assistance, subject matter expert exchanges, medical, dental, veterinary and engineering support and disaster response to partner nations and to show U.S. support and commitment to Central and South America and the Caribbean. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Andrew Schneider.

Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) is anchored off the coast of Port Au Prince, Haiti in support of Continuing Promise 2015. Continuing Promise is a U.S. Southern Command-sponsored and U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet-conducted deployment to conduct civil-military operations including humanitarian-civil assistance, subject matter expert exchanges, medical, dental, veterinary and engineering support and disaster response to partner nations and to show U.S. support and commitment to Central and South America and the Caribbean. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Andrew Schneider.

 

In early September, the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort anchored off the coast of Port Au Prince, Haiti, marking the start of Continuing Promise 2015’s final mission stop after visiting 10 other Latin American and Caribbean nations.

Continuing Promise is a humanitarian civic assistance mission and a U.S. Southern Command medical training exercise aimed at strengthening regional partnerships and improving the lives of thousands in Central and South America and the Caribbean.

This year, Continuing Promise brought together military and civilian personnel from medical, dental, veterinary and engineering disciplines and assisted numerous communities in 11 countries.

Joining this Department of Defense-led mission in Haiti were three Coast Guardsmen: Cmdr. Ted Kim, Lt. Cmdr. Tim Sommella and Lt. Cmdr. Frank Puzzini.

Cmdr. Ted Kim

At the closing ceremony, the First Lady Mrs. Martelly and the Minister of Public Health Dr. Guillaume presented the awards for the Comfort and Security Cooperation Office in Haiti.  Along with the Mission Commander, U.S. Navy Capt. Sam Hancock and the Medical Commander, U.S. Navy Capt. Christine Sears,  U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr.Ted Kim was recognized for helping more than 14,500 Haitians during the mission. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

At the closing ceremony, the First Lady Mrs. Martelly and the Minister of Public Health Dr. Guillaume presented the awards for the Comfort and Security Cooperation Office in Haiti. Along with the Mission Commander, U.S. Navy Capt. Sam Hancock and the Medical Commander, U.S. Navy Capt. Christine Sears, U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr.Ted Kim was recognized for helping more than 14,500 Haitians during the mission. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Cmdr. Ted Kim, who currently serves as the senior defense official and defense attaché assigned to U.S. Embassy Port-au-Prince, is responsible for all DoD related activities and missions in Haiti, including the CP-15 mission to Haiti.

Since early 2015, Kim worked closely with USNS Comfort’s advanced planning teams to prepare for the deployment to Haiti. He negotiated with the Haitian Government directly on behalf of the US government to ensure the ship visit and medical mission were welcomed.

During the visit, he coordinated the mission from the strategic level, overseeing the command and control operations from the Embassy and providing daily status reports to the Ambassador, U.S. Southern Command leadership and the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

Kim even worked side-by-side with colleagues from U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Center for Disease Control (CDC) to coordinate the historic engagement of Cuban and USNS Comfort doctors in a subject matter exchange and treatment of patients in Haiti.

The mission allowed Kim to reflect on how these joint humanitarian missions can make a difference in the lives of thousands.

“Personally, it was a heartwarming experience to help the most vulnerable people, especially children, women and elderly folks,” Kim said. “Most of them have never seen by a doctor before. This is their first professional medical care in their lives!”

Lt. Cmdr. Tim Sommella

Lt. Cmdr. Tim Sommella currently serves as the assigned Coast Guard Liaison Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince. In preparation for Continuing Promise, he accompanied and introduced the master of the USNS Comfort and other members of the pre-deployment site survey team to key Haitian maritime stakeholders in September 2014, helping to pave the way for all shipboard, customs, and immigration approvals and clearances.

During the 10-day mission, he managed the primary medical treatment site located at the Haitian Coast Guard Base. He worked alongside the ship’s medical officer in charge of the site and provided security and logistics support to the largest medical site, treating over 7,800 patients during the eight days of mission and facilitating 166 surgeries onboard USNS Comfort. He interfaced with various Haitian National Police units for crowd control and force protection of the medical personnel ashore and afloat.

Lt. Cmdr. Tim Sommella with the Haitian Coast Guard Commandant, Jean Marie Wagnac and the USNS Comfort Surgeon General, U.S. Navy Capt. Delgado. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Lt. Cmdr. Tim Sommella with the Haitian Coast Guard Commandant, Jean Marie Wagnac and the USNS Comfort Surgeon General, U.S. Navy Capt. Delgado. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

“The opportunity to work closely with the Government of Haiti in the past year to prepare for the USNS Comfort visit and then assist our Department of Defense colleagues and Navy shipmates throughout the week was such an amazing and exhilarating experience,” said Sommella. “Continuing Promise not only helped a huge number of Haitian families but changed the lives of so many individuals.”

Lt. Cmdr. Frank Puzzini

Lt. Cmdr. Frank Puzzini, a reservist, was assigned to US Southern Command’s Interagency and Partnership Directorate during Continuing Promise. Deployed to Port-au-Prince for Continuing Promise, he played an integral role in the day-to-day operations, assisting Sommella at the base and fleet landing. He worked seamlessly and integrated with the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps civilian affairs teams distributing water, providing additional security at the entry control points, and coordinating support services for medical emergencies.

“It was great recognition to be selected by U.S. Southern Command to be part of the downrange team supporting the U.S. Embassy for the Continuing Promise mission in Port-au-Prince, Haiti,” said Puzzini. “I appreciated the opportunity to play a key role helping the Coast Guard Liaison Officer (Lt. Cmdr. Sommella) provide logistical support for the hospital ship USNS Comfort’s port call in Port-au-Prince. Our critical linkage with the Haitian Coast Guard, and our readiness posture, helped to overcome significant roadblocks to allow patients access to the hospital ship and on site patient care in the challenging operational environment.”

His Coast Guard experience proved invaluable with a number of challenging security situations and he ensured a positive experience for the Haitian nationals waiting for medical care in the grueling heat.

“It was extremely rewarding to work in support of the USNS Comfort’s visit to Haiti and I learned significant leadership lessons that will be highly beneficial in my Coast Guard career,” Puzzini said. “I was privileged to be part of a very high performing Coast Guard, DoD, Active Duty, Reserve and Interagency Team that assisted thousands of Haitian Citizens in great need of medical care.

The Continuing Promise mission and teamwork will always be remembered as a high point in my Coast Guard Reserve career”.

Working with their DoD counterparts, Kim, Sommella and Puzzini made a direct positive impact on the lives of thousands of Haitians.

In Haiti alone, Continuing Promise treated 14,474 patients, performed 119 general surgeries and 47 oral surgeries, and sponsored 104 workshops, training more than 300 Haitian medical professionals, none of which would have been possible without the coordination and skill of these three Coast Guard officers.

U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Frank Puzzini, with the Haitian Coast Guard Commandant, Jean Marie Wagnac, and his command staff along with members of the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps civil affairs team. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Frank Puzzini, with the Haitian Coast Guard Commandant, Jean Marie Wagnac, and his command staff along with members of the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps civil affairs team. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Do you know someone who embodies the Coast Guard Core Values of Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty? Please submit your nominations using the “Submit Ideas” link on the right.

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