59 Independent Commando Squadron RE
The widespread devastation and loss of life following the catastrophicearthquake in South Asia in 2005 was enormous.
Up to 75,000 people lost their lives; roads, water and power supplies were obliterated; hundreds of thousands of people from Afhanistan to Western Bangladesh were left homeless.
Among the worst hit areas was Pakistan - administered Kashmir, homes were annilated and the mountain regions were cut-off, whilst they scrambled to find people, bury their dead and ward off hunger and disease.
With the bitter Winter approaching, it was vital that the International Community acted fast.
Among the NGO's and expert teams, 76 members of 59 Indep. Commando Squadron arrived in the Bagh region to bring Aid and help rebuild communities.
With the help of 10 Royal Marines, the team helpedensure local people receivedthe Medical treatment they required, by building 17 Health Centres - including one for the World Health Organisation.
Determined to ensure youngsters could continue their education, they also built 30 large School Shelters, including one to replace a Girls School, 6000 feet above sea level.
Despite the Sub-zero temperatures and high altitude, they distributed food and clothing to remote areas, during the 10 weeks the team were there.
During the return from one Mountain area, the team came across an 11 vehicle Aid convoy, trapped behind a 'jack-knife' lorry, all vehicles were perilously close to the edge of a sheer drop. Using their 4-wheel drive vehicles and their experience, the team moved the Aid vehicles to safety and opened the road, for further Aid vehicles to flow through.
GOAL Chief Executive John O'Shea stated "The assistance of the British Armymeant we could get on with delivering essential supplies, to the most vulnerable in earthquake-ravaged Bagh, we are in-debited to the British Army".
Commander of the Disaster Relief Team in Pakistan - Air Vice Marshall Andrew Walton CBE, stated the Squadron's work was essential in the reconstruction project.
Secretary of State for Defence - Des Browne stated "The outstanding work they did in helping the devasted people of Kashmir, is a shining example of all that is best about our Military".
He further added "The headlines are understandably dominated by stories of our troops dedication and courage in battle - and when called opon to battle, they are un-surpassable. Behind the headlines, our people are even busier saving lives, with the same quiet professionalism and determination".
The actions of 59 Indep. Commando Squadron Engineers, typifies this spirit and reminds us why our Forces make us all so proud.