U.S. military prefers Indonesian aid to Iraq war
U.S. military crews are launching more than 100 helicopter flights a day from the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln ferrying food, water and medicine to tsunami victims, a task they say is far more satisfactory than the Iraq war that seems only to destroy.
"Oh yeah, no doubt," said U.S. Navy helicopter pilot Rachel Brainard. "Here we're helping people, not destroying things."
"It's the greatest thing to see all the smiling faces when we're taking off," she said on Tuesday.
"They were so happy and grateful because they had nothing," said Airman Emily Aleiwe.
Other U.S. ships are entering the region to deliver relief from a U.S. military which has been sending most of its troops to Iraq.
War supporters predicted Iraqis would be so happy to get rid of Saddam they would greet U.S. soldiers as conquering heroes, but instead violent Iraqi resistance has bogged down the U.S.-led effort.
"At least here we know it's for a good cause. In Iraq we don't know what the outcome is going to be," said Airman Kimberly Kolar.
"I don't feel like I've done anything this meaningful in my life," said Airman Carlos Lobo after a day working onshore in Indonesia to deliver aid.
The U.S. military is bringing a steady stream of journalists to the Lincoln to publicize its relief operation, which began under a cloud of international condemnation that US President Bush had done too little too late to help tsunami victims.
To a person, those interviewed said they had been stunned by the destruction wrought by the tsunami. It swept inland two miles in some places, cleared what was once lush jungle, flooded farms and villages and killed an estimated 80,000 people.
"I didn't know it was going to be this big," said Brainard. "We thought at first it was a few thousand people."