Xanana Gusmao, the Prime Minister of Timor-Leste high fives Cmdr. Veronica Armstrong during the "Marathon for Peace" race.
DILI, Timor-Leste (June. 18, 2011) Xanana Gusmao, the Prime Minister of Timor-Leste high fives Cmdr. Veronica Armstrong during the "Marathon for Peace" race in Dili. Fifty personnel currently participating in Pacific Partnership 2011 ran in the marathon. Pacific Partnership is a humanitarian assistance initiative that promotes cooperation throughout the Pacific, which will visit five island nations this summer: Tonga, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste, and the Federated States of Micronesia. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael Russell/Released)
Pacific Partnership Competes in Marathon for Peace in Dili
By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Michael Russell, Pacific Partnership 2011 Public Affairs

Fifty members of the Pacific Partnership 2011 team ran in Timor-Leste’s second annual “Marathon for Peace” in Dili, June 18.

Sponsored by the President of Timor-Leste, Dr. Jose Ramos-Horta, the race is designed to promote peaceful social conditions in order to support national stability, sovereignty and unity in the island nation.

The event included a full marathon (42km), a half-marathon (21km), and a 7km “fun” run. With more than 6,500 people in attendance, Pacific Partnership members supported the event by running in the race, providing medical support, and performing live music for the participants.

At the award ceremony after the race, Ramos-Horta, a Nobel laureate, thanked Capt. Jesse A. Wilson, mission commander of Pacific Partnership 2011 and the entire Pacific Partnership team, for attending the race and being in Timor-Leste.

“I want to mention the presence of Pacific Partnership being here in Timor Leste,” said Ramos-Horta. “Capt. Wilson, you are very welcome here, so consider this a welcome for your country to come here as often as you can.”

Pacific Partnership is an annual humanitarian assistance initiative sponsored by U.S. Pacific Fleet. Aimed at improving interoperability between host and partner nations, the team is comprised of volunteers from non-governmental organizations, representatives from partner nation militaries, such as Australia, Japan, Canada, Spain, Malaysia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and representatives of the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and the Marine Corps.
Wilson also spoke to the crowd at the awards ceremony.

“The devastating tsunami that hit Indonesia in 2004 was the genesis for this mission,” he said. “The leadership in our country decided that we would return to this region annually, and this year our doctors, nurses, engineers, and veterinarians are working side by side with Timor-Leste’s doctors, nurses, engineers, and veterinarians to provide an increased quality of care for the people of Timor-Leste, as well as increased capacity and sustainable services.”

Legalman 1st Class Kenya Desroches ran the half-marathon and was surprised by the amount of people in attendance.

“Stepping into the race at first I felt overwhelmed because there were so many people there, but I got into a groove and everything went smooth,” said Desroches. “Wow, I’ve never actually seen that many people in one place at one time, especially in a race.

During the past two months, the Pacific Partnership team has treated more than 20,000 patients, provided 25 surgeries, completed ten engineering projects, cared for nearly 1,000 animals, engaged in nearly 30 community service projects, and developed countless friendships in Tonga, Vanuatu, and Papua New Guinea. During the past five years, Pacific Partnership has provided medical, dental, veterinary, educational, and preventive medicine services to more than 230,000 people and completed more than 150 engineering projects in 15 countries.

For more information on the Pacific Partnership mission, please go to:

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