The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Cannon airman aiding humanitarian mission


June 26, 2009

DoD photo: Airman 1st Class Ashley Garcia Senior Airman Brett Manz, a dental technician assigned to the 27th Special Operations Aero Medicine Squadron applies fluoride varnish to a student's teeth to make them stronger.

TUMACO, Colombia — Members from the dental team assigned to Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) taught an oral hygiene class for 400 students at Chilvi School on June 15.

The team partnered with a Colombian dental student to provide cursory exams, to ensure the students’ teeth were healthy, and gave the students an oral hygiene presentation using the dental department’s mascot, “Toothie.” They also gave the students fluoride treatments to strengthen their teeth and make them more resistant to cavities.

“A lot of children don’t have the opportunity to have proper dental care,” said Navy Cmdr. David Hartzell, dental department head aboard Comfort. “This is a great way for us to bring oral health instruction to the children of Chilvi.”

The school children were able to practice brushing teeth using “Toothie” and an enlarged toothbrush, and were given toothbrushes to take home.

“I’m glad I had the opportunity to be part of the team that came here today,” said Senior Airman Brett Manz, dental technician aboard Comfort. “I hope that the impact we made here today will have a lasting impression on the children so that they will continue to smile for years to come.”

Airman Manz is on temporary duty from the 27th Special Operations Aerospace Medicine Squadron.

The course is one of the many services offered as part of Continuing Promise 2009. CP09 combines U.S. military and interagency personnel, non-governmental organizations, academia and partner nations to provide medical, dental, veterinary and engineering services afloat and ashore alongside host nation personnel.

The ship’s next stop is El Salvador where Comfort continues its four month humanitarian and civic assistance mission in the Caribbean and Latin America in support of CP09.


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