Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Helicopter Incident

Dear Family and Friends,

I’m sure many of you have seen the news about the shooting at one of our helicopters. Day before yesterday, one of our helos made a startling discovery after it returned to Mercy bringing back a group of folks from a medical outreach sight. After landing on deck, the maintenance team noticed hydraulic fluid leaking from the tail rotor section. Upon further inspection, a bullet hole was discovered in the cowling below the rotor. It was most likely fired from a rifle while the helicopter was traveling over land. No one was injured and the pilot didn’t know he had been shot at, much less hit, all during the flight.

As the press reports stated, we did temporally “suspend operations.” I happy to report that today we are back to completing all mission objectives.

We’re not sure who is responsible for this incident. We are working closely Philippine authorities to find out who perpetuated this act. The mood of the crew is: We will not be intimidated! Everyone aboard believes in this mission and understands the needs of the people we are working to help. An overwhelming majority of the population here supports our efforts. Now is not the time to turn-tail just because someone decided to take a few pot shots at us.

I don’t wish to sound cavalier about what has happened. Trust me when I tell you, everyone is deeply concerned about what has happened and is doing everything possible to ensure the safety of our people working ashore and aboard. Nonetheless, you can never totally eliminate risk when doing a mission like this – you can only manage it the best you can.

Since the beginning of history, there have been those who have used violence, or the threat of violence, as a means to further some political agenda. However, only a thug would attack a hospital ship or, in this case, a transport to and from a hospital ship. We will continue to take measures to protect our people; and we will not be driven away by some coward who believes he can change our minds by threatening us. We will complete this mission!

More to come…



John said...

Thank you Captain for this latest information.

I am glad that you will continue this mission in the Philippines and not let some person drive you away.

Take the appropriate steps to protect all concerned and continue on taking care of those people that need help.

John said...

Captain Bob

In reading the Manila Times today, I know you are underway for your next location in the Philippines.

I hope you will be in the area where other missions have been going on in Samar for the past weeks. Of all the islands and locations in the Philippines, Samar is the poorest with those that really need this type of help. You and your crew will continue to meet Filipinos who really are greatful for all that you are providing to them.

The outer islands around Calbayog City are in such need for medical help. These Filipinos live off the land and sea and barely have the money for any medical problems.

It is very sad on my visits there to pay respects to family memebers who have passed to see so many grave sites of children who die within their first year of life. Simple child sickness that we can cure are taking these young lives daily.

I hope you have the time to go to the outer islands around this city and help these young children.

Thank you

Navy Mom said...

Captain, thank you for continuing with your mission to help all these people, needing your medical attention so desperately. You are right, only scum would attack a hospital operation in this cowardly way, but you show the world, that you all are serious about your work, to provide medical help for people in need.
Cudos and sincere thanks to you and the whole crew on the Mercy,
I keep you all in my prayers.
People like you make the world a better place to be,
thank you,
Navy Mom :)

Pat, Pam, & Sean said...

Hey Captain Bob,

You and your shipmates bravery is unsaddled. Be careful and use good judgement. My family and I are praying for you and your crew daily.
God Bless,
Pat Yancey

Colo Navymom said...

Good to hear that all is well! the work you all are doing is so wonderful! To be able to provode for so many in need is a blessing indeed. God bless all of you and thanks to all for their service.

Anonymous said...

I am glad to hear that no one was hurt. All of you are in my prayers.

Brutus said...

Captain Wiley,

Good to hear that everyone is OK. I am glad to hear that the mission continues. It is great that you are back out doing good things there in the Philippines. It was such a wonderful experience last time. I wish I was there too, but I am on to bigger and better things now. Good luck to all of you.

"Former Air Boss"

Greg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Navy Girlfriend said...

Hello Captain,
I was delighted to find this while searching for information about the USNS Mercy. My boyfriend of over 3 years is onboard and was in the helicopter that day. I was incredibly thankful to hear from him that no one was injured. I am very proud of him and all others onboard. Thank you so much for providing this site for everyone with family and friends on the Mercy. Keep up the good work!

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