Vietnamese officials, air carriers and companies band together to deliver 2.5 million masks to U.S. through a partnership with Los Angeles relief organization
Los Angeles, Calif., June 20, 2020—Operation USA, a Los Angeles-based international relief agency, today announced it has partnered with VietJet Airlines, the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi, the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry and several Vietnamese companies to bring 2.5 million masks and other personal protective equipment into the U.S. by air and sea in support of ongoing COVID-19 response efforts. A majority of the masks will be distributed in the Greater Los Angeles area, with additional masks being shipped to partners in New York City. OpUSA is working closely with LA Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office, the Deputy Mayor for International Affairs, Ambassador Nina Hachigian, and the Port of Los Angeles to arrange transport and distribution.
Operation USA (then Operation California) was founded in 1979 in Los Angeles by Richard Walden, and has since delivered $450 million in aid to 101 countries, including many communities here in the United States. The organization’s first relief effort was a response to the plight of hundreds of thousands of displaced Vietnamese “boat people” refugees in Malaysia and neighboring countries following the end of the Vietnam War. In July of 1979, OpUSA delivered its first international relief flight—containing medical, shelter and water supplies, and food supplements—to Malaysia. Later that year, OpUSA sent a second airlift to Thailand, supplying refugee camps along the borders of Cambodia and Laos.
This year, because Vietnam’s successful handling of COVID-19 resulted in few confirmed cases and deaths, companies in the country with the capacity to secure or produce masks sought to send aid internationally. The U.S. Embassy in Hanoi, where Los Angeles native Robert Gabor—who has known OpUSA for thirty years—serves as Economics Counselor, and Ambassador Dan Kritenbrink recognized an opportunity for Vietnam to support the American People through partnership with Operation USA, helping to facilitate the effort by several Vietnamese companies to deliver millions of masks to the organization.
Donated materials from Vietnam will be delivered to the United States via an airlift containing one million masks donated by VietJet, anticipated to arrive at LAX on June 21, and via three sea shipments containing 1.5 million masks and other PPE donated by additional partners, anticipated to arrive at the Port of Los Angeles in mid-July. VietJet and its colleagues at EVA Air are transporting the donated materials by air from Vietnam to the U.S. OpUSA’s partners at the LA Mayor’s Office and Port of LA will help transport and distribute the materials once they arrive in Los Angeles. The materials were donated by: Oxalis Adventure, One Step Vietnam, Tan Dai Hung Company, Sen Group, MayViet, Dong Nai U.S. Friendship Association, Duyen K. Phung, Monk Thich Minh Phu, The HCMC Union of Friendship Organizations (HUFO), Dony Garment Company, AIC Group JSC, and Nhat Tri.
Upon arrival in Los Angeles, 750,000 masks will be passed to Mayor Eric Garcetti’s COVID-19 task force for distribution in the Greater Los Angeles area, and 250,000 masks will be forwarded to partners in New York City. Masks and protective gear that meet established medical standards will be distributed to frontline medical workers. Non-medical masks and other supplies will be distributed to essential workers and other high-risk groups.