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Aviano Airmen restore South African smiles
Three Airmen from Aviano provided dental care in a multi-national joint task force humanitarian effort from July 21 to Aug. 8, 2013, in the vicinity of King Williams' Town, Eastern Cape province, South Africa.
Air Force dental teams and South African dentists participated in Shared Accord 13, July 24-Aug. 7, King Williams' Town, Eastern Cape province, South Africa. Three Airmen from Aviano participated in the humanitarian mission, providing dental care to more than 500 patients in the King Williams’ Town area. (Courtesy photo)
2 photos: Aviano Airmen restore South African smiles
Photo 1 of 2: Air Force dental teams and South African dentists participated in Shared Accord 13, July 24-Aug. 7, King Williams' Town, Eastern Cape province, South Africa. Three Airmen from Aviano participated in the humanitarian mission, providing dental care to more than 500 patients in the King Williams’ Town area. (Courtesy photo) Download full-resolution version
Tech. Sgt. Aretha Boston, 31st Dental Squadron logistics NCO in charge, inspects a local South African during a humanitarian mission near King Williams’ Town, South Africa, that lasted from July 21 to Aug. 8, 2013. To ensure a regular routine and combat further infections, 1,500 kits containing toothpaste, toothbrushes and floss were handed out free of charge. (Courtesy photo)
2 photos: Aviano Airmen restore South African smiles
Photo 2 of 2: Tech. Sgt. Aretha Boston, 31st Dental Squadron logistics NCO in charge, inspects a local South African during a humanitarian mission near King Williams’ Town, South Africa, that lasted from July 21 to Aug. 8, 2013. To ensure a regular routine and combat further infections, 1,500 kits containing toothpaste, toothbrushes and floss were handed out free of charge. (Courtesy photo) Download full-resolution version
Air Force dental teams and South African dentists participated in Shared Accord 13, July 24-Aug. 7, King Williams' Town, Eastern Cape province, South Africa. Three Airmen from Aviano participated in the humanitarian mission, providing dental care to more than 500 patients in the King Williams’ Town area. (Courtesy photo)
Tech. Sgt. Aretha Boston, 31st Dental Squadron logistics NCO in charge, inspects a local South African during a humanitarian mission near King Williams’ Town, South Africa, that lasted from July 21 to Aug. 8, 2013. To ensure a regular routine and combat further infections, 1,500 kits containing toothpaste, toothbrushes and floss were handed out free of charge. (Courtesy photo)

"It was one of those moments that was bigger than you," said Tech. Sgt. Rowan Strong, 31st Dental Squadron clinical flight chief. "At the end of every day, I was proud to wear the uniform. It was an honor to help so many people and take away so much pain."

Three Airmen from Aviano provided dental care in a multi-national joint task force humanitarian effort from July 21 to Aug. 8, 2013, in the vicinity of King Williams' Town, Eastern Cape province, South Africa.

"In a socioeconomic area like this one, you want to provide treatment to the largest amount of people possible," said Capt. Kelley Hursh, 31st DS general dentist. "For the most part, you want to treat infection and take away pain."

During the humanitarian civic action event, the Airmen worked with South African dentists, providing 799 Air Force quality dental care procedures to more than 500 patients.

"We had an amazing team," said Tech. Sgt. Aretha Boston, 31st DS dental logistics NCO in charge. "Most of us didn't know each other and the South African dentists exceeded expectations. They were just as good as we were, and we watched and learned from each other as we treated patients."

With each new patient, came memories that participants would take with them even after they left.

"There was a little girl there, maybe seven or eight, who was really worried about getting her tooth pulled," said Strong. "It came to a point where she wouldn't stop moving and crying and I didn't know what else to do. I pulled out my iPod and let her listen to it. She calmed right down, and we were able to pull an infected tooth that was causing her a lot of irritation."

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