Dhaka: Bangladesh’s armed forces bid farewell on 7 December to the US Marines and sailors who had helped in a daunting emergency relief operation after a killer cyclone ravaged the country’s coasts last month.
“We did something special. We saved lives,” said General Ronald L. Bailey, marine brigadier, at the farewell ceremony at Dhaka army headquarters.
The US military aid mission in Bangladesh started on 23 November, a week after Cyclone Sidr struck Bangladesh, killing around 3,500 people and leaving millions without food and shelter.
Bangladesh and US officials said the US soldiers would leave Bangladesh in two or three days after a final pack-up. They arrived onboard two helicopter-carrying navy vessels, USS Kearsarge and USS Tarawa.
The marines flew food, water, medicine, clothes and blankets to remote areas battered by Sidr, the strongest cyclone since 1991 when a storm killed around 1,43,000 Bangladeshis.
Bangladesh army officials praised the US military for their humanitarian effort. “You shall be leaving Bangladesh, but marks of your presence will remain in the sands of our coast and of course in the depth of hearts of millions of suffering humanity,” Lieutenant-General Masud Uddin Chowdhury told his U.S. counterparts during the farewell.
The departure of the US marines and troops marks the end of the relief operations and the beginning of the rebuilding and rehabilitation effort.