- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 24, 2015

FORT BENNING, Ga. (AP) - Four members of the 463rd Medical Detachment, 14th Combat Support Hospital returned Monday night after a 14-week deployment in West Africa helping with the Ebola outbreak.

Capt. Kristopher Appler, Sgt. Elmer Cabana, Staff Sgt. Patrick Dickens, and Spc. Rysper Sirma were greeted at Freedom Hall in Fort Benning by a group of friends, family, and peers. They worked as veterinary service support in Liberia to help contain the Ebola virus, establish and synchronize Ebola treatment units across the country, train health care workers and establish logistical centers.

Operation United Assistance provided humanitarian assistance to Liberia, Senegal, and Guinea during the Ebola outbreak, and required more than 3,000 soldiers to support other governmental agencies and local medical infrastructure. The 463rd specifically worked with food to make sure U.S. troops were properly fed, maintaining food safety, minimizing zootonic disease, and monitoring food storage.

“The goal with this unit is that the food that a soldier puts in their mouths is as close to U.S. standards as possible,” said Lt. Col. Alisa Wilma.

During their four-month deployment, the 463rd participated in more than 250 missions, inspected more than $4 millions in operational rations, conduced more than 90 dining facility sanitation assessments, inspected five warehouses, conducted three sanitation audits in two countries, conducted five disease outbreak epidemiological investigations, and logged more than 5,000 road miles across Liberia and Senegal, “which is pretty impressive if you know the road conditions in West Africa,” Wilma said in her address during the ceremony.

“Fourteen weeks, that’s (a short time to accomplish so much)” Wilma said. “There’s not much more I can say other than how proud we are and how glad we are you’re all home.”

Wilma said three of the four deployed returned from the mission with promotional status. Sirma, a native of Kenya and now a U.S. military member, was recognized by Joint Forces Commander Maj. Gen. Gary Volesky for her exemplary performance. She was tasked with inspecting all food that came in to the base.

“I’m proud of all the work we did inspecting.we didn’t have any soldiers get sick,” Sirma said. “They would call me at 2 a.m. to go do the inspection before the food was sent to the warehouse.”

Before returning to Fort Benning, the unit spent three weeks in quarantine at a facility in Virginia.

“It’s good to be back home here with all the good food and friends,” Sirma said. “I’m happy to be back with my unit.”

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Information from: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, https://ledger-enquirer.com


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