America's Mission

U.S. Airman Mike Stewart's Sierra helicopter flies low over the smashed city of Meulaboh, where an intact tower clock hasn't moved since the earthquake struck on the morning of Dec. 26. Stewart and his crew land to deliver plastic sheeting, but two U.S. Marines on the ground tell them it isn't needed. Up in the air again, Stewart spots a lone Indonesian man in shorts who is waving. The helicopter circles lower: other villagers start smiling and blowing kisses. They clearly aren't desperate. "We'll come back with food and water," Stewart explains above the din of the chopper. The 23-year-old from...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!