Army advisers based out of Fort Bragg, N.C., were training with Ghana Armed Forces on Jan. 21 when a mining truck carrying explosives collided with a motorcycle, killing at least 17 people in the resulting blast, and injuring or displacing hundreds more.
Soldiers from the 2nd Security Force Assistance Brigade made the call to deliver aid and humanitarian support to the Apiate community near Bogoso, where the incident occurred, according to an Army press release.
Fifty-nine people were injured in the blast, which left a large crater and reduced dozens of buildings to piles of wood and metal, according to France 24.
U.S. troops responding to the crisis were in Ghana as part of an ongoing advise-and-assist mission to train local partners before they decided to shift gears and focus on helping the community.
“Humanitarian relief is definitely not part of our ordinary ‘train, advise, assist’ mission-set,” 1st Lt. Christopher Wilson, a team leader within the brigade, said in the press release. “It was extraordinary in every sense of the word.”
Some of the training 2nd SFAB has conducted with local forces in Ghana has included an NCO Maneuver Leader’s Course, according to captions under photos posted by the unit online. Participants learned formations and orders of movement, reacting to contact, linear and open danger area crossings, squad assaults, room clearing, and medical evacuations.
While relief efforts were spearheaded by the U.S. Embassy mission to Ghana and the country’s National Disaster Management Office, SFAB soldiers assisted, distributing emergency supplies and offering moral support to the affected locals.
Supplies, largely funded by the Defense Department’s Overseas Humanitarian, Disaster Assistance and Civic Aid program, included medical supplies, drinking water, food and cooking utensils, personal hygiene materials, clothing, blankets and mattresses.
“It was undoubtedly the most fulfilling mission of my time in service,” Wilson said. “By providing disaster relief, we demonstrate that we are not only invested in assisting the military, but also seeking opportunities to assist the country as a whole.”
Rachel is a Marine Corps veteran, Penn State alumna and Master's candidate at New York University for Business and Economic Reporting.