by Tech. Sgt. Eric Petosky
12th Air Force Public Affairs
9/23/2009 - DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. (AFNS) -- American military officials here donated almost $1 million worth of equipment, food and supplies to local establishments as operations at Forward Operating Location Manta, Ecuador, came to an end Sept. 18.
The closing marks the end of a 10-year lease agreement between the United States and Ecuador.
"This week officially concludes the FOL's community relations program in Manta," said Lt. Col. Jared Curtis, the 478th Expeditionary Operations Squadron commander. "From now until Sept. 18, we are working 24 hours a day, seven days a week, packing and shipping approximately 5,000 items to 22 locations outside of Ecuador. We will continue to support the counterdrug effort with the majority of those assets."
Additionally, the colonel said they would donate another 3,500 items to the Ecuadorian air force after American servicemembers departed FOL Manta.
Among the donated items were five vehicles, an ambulance, a runway sweeper, office and medical supplies, and tools. More than 30 organizations received donations including six schools, seven fire departments, two outreach programs, two orphanages, four hospitals and three soup kitchens.
The support for FOL Manta and other communities in Manabi Province is nothing new for U.S. servicemembers.
Unit members carried out an intensive community relations program since it opened in 1999. In an average year, troops volunteered for 200 events and donated more than 4,000 hours and 15,000 items. Just last year, nonprofit organizations in the country received $30,000 in donations from the U.S. Embassy as well.
"We appreciate the goodwill shown by our Ecuadorian hosts over that past 10 years," Colonel Curtis said. "Their support was key to our success."
Located at the Ecuadorian Air Force Base Eloy Alfaro, FOL Manta has been a well-defined part of a multinational partnership to stop illegal narcotic trafficking over the eastern Pacific Ocean. Missions flown by the 487th EOS included aerial detection, monitoring, tracking and control of narcotic activities. The partnership forged between the United States and Ecuador will continue even after the lease expires.