DVIDS – News – Army Major sails in Polynesia with US Coast Guard



HONOLULU – Major Julius Delapena spent six weeks on the high seas in support of Operation Aiga, a 46-day U.S. Coast Guard patrol that traversed virtually all of the Polynesian Pacific region, including Hawaii, Tonga and Samoa from August 17 to September 30 earlier this year. Unbeknownst to the public, a Soldier supporting operations at sea is not beyond the reach of what Reserve Soldiers can do. During the operation, Major Delepena worked side by side with his Coast Guard counterparts to provide much needed expertise during the operation.

Delapena is an Army Reserve Nurse at the 1984th US Army Hospital and the USCG’s mission is only part of his individual mobilization to support US Army Pacific operations in Pacific Island countries ( OPIC) (formerly known as Task Force Oceania). Delepena and her CIPO teammates are essential partners in such operations. For Delepena, it was an incredible opportunity.

“My role was to provide full-time medical support for the mission and to function as an independent service team member on the USCG Cutter Oliver Berry. Due to the distance between Honolulu and American Samoa, medical assistance is required on board the ship in case of medical assistance and emergency, ”said Delapena.

The US Army Pacific OPIC organization (USARPAC) that Delapena works for consists of soldiers from all components of the Army, Active Service, National Guard, and US Army Reserve, with a mission focused on the Oceania region. The diverse nature of the organization allows for unique capabilities to augment the various missions taking place in the region.

“Collaborating efforts to carry out missions with our sister components allows us to identify gaps and complement each other’s needs,” explained Delapena. “The USCG needed a full-time medical provider for their mission and I was able to be that provider. Additionally, due to COVID-19 restrictions, Samoa has closed its borders to overseas travel, without the opportunity presented by the USCG in this mission, we would not have been able to travel to Samoa. I think the other components should be aware of each other’s capabilities so that critical mission gaps can be filled.

Delapena’s presence on USCG Oliver Berry was fortuitous both for the OPIC mission, as well as for the health and safety of the Coast Guard performing the mission.

“One of the highlights of the mission in American Samoa was that I provided acute medical care on another ship (USCG Juniper) that needed emergency care. I was transported to the Juniper to work alongside their Coast Guard and provide care to the Coast Guard on board. I provided 24 hour care on the ship for 2 days as I went to the nearest available hospital, ”said Delapena.

“Being part of this mission was such a unique opportunity,” said Delapena. “As an Army Nurse in the (Army Reserve), I never thought I’d be on a ship sailing across the Pacific. I must admit that I am not used to sailing, but the experience was well worth seasickness.

Date taken: 30.09.2021
Date posted: 11.15.2021 17:23
Story ID: 409364
Site: HONOLULU, HI, United States

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