Far Rockaway Native Takes Part In Operation Cobra
For the son of a Far Rockaway couple, providing humanitarian aid, civic assistance, and military training to a country known for deadly cobra snakes, Buddhist temples, and shrimp pad Thai, was quite an experience recently.
Navy Seaman Edwin A. Ortiz, son of Juan and Juana Ortiz of Far Rockaway, was one of more than 7,200 U.S. servicemembers involved in Cobra Gold 2011, the largest multi-lateral military training exercise in the Pacific region. Sponsored by the Royal Thai Supreme Command and the United States, Cobra Gold is conducted annually throughout the Kingdom of Thailand. This year’s participants were Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, the United States, and the Republic of Korea.
“My role is to provide medical and dental care and support the Marines during their training exercise,” said Ortiz, a 2002 graduate of Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School, Brooklyn. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in 2006 from St. John’s University, Jamaica.
Cobra Gold 2011 marks the 30th anniversary of the Cobra Gold Exercise and has developed into an important symbol of the U.S. military’s commitment to maintaining peace and security in Asia. The exercise provides realistic training, improves efficiency through military coordination, and tests military operations.
Service members work on their tactical skills and test their ability to operate in a joint, multinational environment. These range from amphibious assaults to engineering and medical humanitarian and civic assistance projects geared toward improving the quality of life of the Thai people.
This type of training gives Ortiz a chance to improve his individual skills and experience the culture of other countries.
“This exercise is important to establish friendly relations with Thailand,” said Ortiz, a hospital corpsman assigned to Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Japan. “I’m hoping to further enhance my knowledge to providing better care to the Marines.”
With its lush jungles, exotic beaches, and its precarious animal wildlife, Thailand is quite a contrast to the hustle and bustle of the United States. Instead of the huge shopping malls that Ortiz and the others are accustomed to, street markets abound with sellers who pack their wares – a variety of tropical fruits, flowers, food, clothing and jewelry, into small kiosks, bargaining with customers to get the best price for their items.
“This is my first time in Thailand,” said Ortiz. “The people have been very warm and welcoming.”
In an age where it is just as important for countries to support peace operations, Ortiz and his multi-national military partners understand firsthand what it takes to bring many countries together to be able to respond to disasters such as recent tsunamis and cyclones, and provide humanitarian assistance around the world.