Pacific Angel pioneer returns for its 10 year anniversary

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Jeff Andrejcik
  • Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs
Retired U.S. Air Force Col. John Cinco, better known now as “Doc Cinco”, is considered to be the “Father” of Pacific Angel, an initiative he shaped a little over a decade ago.

According to Cinco, his 80-man team’s initial mission, funded by Pacific Command, was received so positively that they decided to fund similar projects every year, which sparked the beginning of Pacific Angel.

Cinco explained how the event came to life after he found an Air Force Reserve aircraft and crew willing to provide transportation to his team of medical and engineering personnel for 10 days while they trained on island nations across the Pacific.

“It started about 10 years ago when I was assigned to Pacific Air Forces as a division chief,” said Cinco. “I knew the U.S. Navy did Pacific Partnership where they setup clinics along the shore and I thought to myself, ‘why can’t the Air Force do the same thing.’ We have significant air assets that would allow us to go deeper into a country and serve that population.”

From Cincos account, his team performed a less robust mission compared to what it is now. This PACANGEL had the capability and manpower to treat 6,687 patients over a 5-day span, far surpassing the amount of people from his first mission.

Doc Cinco, who is now the Orlando Veterans Affairs chief of compensation and pension, has watched PACANGEL grow into a combined effort, which has employed each branch of the U.S. military, several militaries from across the Pacific as well as civilian and nongovernmental organizations.

“I retired from the Air Force about six years ago and Pacific Angel really caps off everything I did,” Cinco said. “I think not just PACANGEL but also Pacific Partnership and all the other engagements we have with our Pacific allies really strengthen our relationship. It helps us work together as a team, increasing interoperability, in case we have to work with them in peace time or war.”

Spending time as an active duty doctor on deployments and working in places like NASA allowed Cinco an opportunity to do what he loves.

Now, coming back to the Philippines for the 10th anniversary of PACANGEL, it opens up another opportunity for him to return to what he started and help the people of Cebu.

“I was very surprised and pleased that I was invited to join this mission, particularly to the Philippines,” said Cinco. “I was born in the United States but I grew up here, specifically on Cebu Island. I’m familiar with the culture and was very happy to help out in any way I could.”

Cinco expressed the desire to return again if he was ever offered the chance but said that even if he can’t, he hopes to see the event grow even more.

“When I left the Air Force I didn’t know how big PACANGEL would grow,” he said. “When I retired I followed it and I’m pleased to see how far it came. When you look at the kids and all the people we’re helping out, that’s what counts, it’s all for them.”

PACANGEL now occurs multiple times in several different countries annually, partnering U.S. personnel with its Pacific counterparts to deliver humanitarian assistance and exchange information in a wide range of civic engagements.

This year, in addition to the Philippines, PACANGEL has scheduled missions in Fiji, Vietnam and Nepal.