315 AW reservists deliver humanitarian aid for new year
By Senior Airman Robert Pilch, 315th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published January 04, 2011
JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. -- When most people contemplate a road trip to see friends and family or enjoying an evening out during the New Year holiday, Reservists from the 315th Airlift Wing here, awake in the early morning hours to prepare for a humanitarian mission aboard a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft bound for Haiti and Grenada Dec. 30, 2010.
Before the sun has a chance to shine, airmen arrive for a pre-flight briefing on safety and mission details. After a bite of a sausage biscuit and couple sips of coffee, they load their luggage and equipment for the ride out to the flight-line to board the aircraft.
Once aboard, it is apparent no space is wasted on this mission as the aircraft is filled from nose to tail with 16 pallets of aid weighing over 40 tons that will provide a fresh start to a new year for the children and families who will receive the much needed supplies.
The humanitarian aid delivered to Haiti consists of 76,000 pounds of medical and school supplies, clothing, food and furniture donated with the assistance of Haiti Lifeline Ministries, Inc., a non-profit organization located in Hesston, Kan. These items will be utilized by the Lifeline Orphanage and provide assistance to the children who call it home and the surrounding community.
The impact of delivering this aid provides the crew with a meaningful purpose of mission.
Senior Airman Dennis L. Conner, a loadmaster with the 701st Airlift Squadron here, said, "It makes me feel good. One minute you are in Charleston and the next you're in Haiti and Grenada delivering humanitarian aid helping people."
Conner is one of several loadmasters aboard for training who are responsible for overseeing all cargo and personnel that are being transported during this mission.
"I feel honored to serve my country, and to feel more honored to serve humanity as well," said Master Sgt. Bernard L. Matthews, flying crew chief with the 315th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron here, who is responsible for fixing any maintenance discrepancies regarding the aircraft.
It is late in the afternoon and the crew finished unloading 13 pallets of aid to Haiti in under two hours. The crew gears up to prepare the aircraft for the second stop on this mission - Grenada.
Maj. Derek Howard, a reserve pilot with the 701 AS said, "I am glad I am able to be in a position to help people."
Through the efforts of the Good News Project, an interfaith organization of volunteers, located in Wausau, Wis., 7,000 pounds of aid consisting of medical and educational supplies, clothing, furniture and dry goods are delivered to Grenada to help children and their families start the new school year.
Upon delivery, the crew is notified that no one is available to help breakdown the aid from the pallets to the delivery trucks.
"I have a crew ready to go," said Senior Master Sgt. Bradley Levander, senior air reserve technician with the 81st Aerial Port Squadron here.
Immediately, airmen from the 81 APS and 701 AS pitched in and started sorting the supplies for transport from the airport.
"I love being a part of these missions, it makes you feel like you did something good," said Senior Airman Cody S. Rogers, a loadmaster with the 701 AS, who is an engineering student when not flying missions as a Reservist.
Tech. Sgt. Darrien S. Thornton, a RAVEN program manager with the 94th Security Forces Squadron, Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Ga. said, "We will always be there to support the people with humanitarian aid when they need it. They can count on the United States military for our support."
With the final pallet unloaded, the crew boards the aircraft to Panama so everyone receives mandatory rest and to pick up empty pallets to transport back home from a previous mission.
While the ball dropped in New York to celebrate the New Year, airmen from the 315 AW delivered $93,000 worth of humanitarian aid from the United States that will affect several thousand neighbors in Haiti and Grenada, helping to build long-lasting relationships for years to come.
Missions such as these are made possible by the Denton Amendment. The Denton Amendment provides the authority for the Department of Defense to use extra space on U.S. military cargo aircraft to transport humanitarian assistance materials donated by non-governmental organizations, international organizations, and private voluntary organizations for humanitarian relief.