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Deployed 317th AG Airmen provide aid after disaster

KABUL INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, Afghanistan – Afghan National Army soldiers and advisors relax as they fly aboard a C-130 J-30 assigned to the 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing May 5, 2014. The team was flown to Fayzabad Airport by Coalition Forces so they could make their way to the Badakhshan province, which experienced a mudslide May 2 that is responsible for the loss of lives and damages of a village. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Cohen A. Young)

KABUL INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, Afghanistan – Afghan National Army soldiers and advisors relax as they fly aboard a C-130 J-30 assigned to the 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing May 5, 2014. The team was flown to Fayzabad Airport by Coalition Forces so they could make their way to the Badakhshan province, which experienced a mudslide May 2 that is responsible for the loss of lives and damages of a village. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Cohen A. Young)

KABUL INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, Afghanistan - U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Nicholas Banach, a loadmaster assigned to the 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing speaks with U.S. Army Cpl. Brett Bentley, a native of Senoia, Ga., and U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Mode, a native of Denton, Texas, about security procedures while aboard a C-130 J-30 at Fayzabad Airport May 5, 2014. Bentley and Mode are assigned to the 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Macon Ga., and they joined Banach, a native of Yucca Valley, Calif., when Coalition Forces joined together to assist the Afghan Government with relief efforts after a recent mudslide in Badakhshan province. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Cohen A. Young)

KABUL INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, Afghanistan - U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Nicholas Banach, a loadmaster assigned to the 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing speaks with U.S. Army Cpl. Brett Bentley, a native of Senoia, Ga., and U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Mode, a native of Denton, Texas, about security procedures while aboard a C-130 J-30 at Fayzabad Airport May 5, 2014. Bentley and Mode are assigned to the 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Macon Ga., and they joined Banach, a native of Yucca Valley, Calif., when Coalition Forces joined together to assist the Afghan Government with relief efforts after a recent mudslide in Badakhshan province. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Cohen A. Young)

FAYZABAD, Afghanistan - U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Shawn Donovan, a Fly Away Security Team member assigned to the 455th Expeditionary Base Defense Squadron, Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan and a native of Swansboro, N.C., stands guard as C-130 J-30 is unloaded with personnel and supplies at Fayzabad Airport May 5, 2014. Coalition Forces to include an Italian C-130 and a crew assigned to the 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron assisted the Afghan Government with relief efforts after a recent mudslide in Badakhshan province. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Cohen A. Young)

FAYZABAD, Afghanistan - U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Shawn Donovan, a Fly Away Security Team member assigned to the 455th Expeditionary Base Defense Squadron, Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan and a native of Swansboro, N.C., stands guard as C-130 J-30 is unloaded with personnel and supplies at Fayzabad Airport May 5, 2014. Coalition Forces to include an Italian C-130 and a crew assigned to the 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron assisted the Afghan Government with relief efforts after a recent mudslide in Badakhshan province. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Cohen A. Young)

KABUL INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, Afghanistan - U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Thomas Baker, a loadmaster assigned to the 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing signals a forklift driver as supplies are loaded onto a C-130 J-30 at Kabul International Airport May 5, 2014. Coalition Forces joined together to assist the Afghan Government with relief efforts after a recent mudslide in Badakhshan province. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Cohen A. Young)

KABUL INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, Afghanistan - U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Thomas Baker, a loadmaster assigned to the 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing signals a forklift driver as supplies are loaded onto a C-130 J-30 at Kabul International Airport May 5, 2014. Coalition Forces joined together to assist the Afghan Government with relief efforts after a recent mudslide in Badakhshan province. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Cohen A. Young)

KABUL INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, Afghanistan - Afghan National Army soldiers and advisors board a C-130 J-30 at Kabul International Airport, Afghanistan May 5, 2014. The aircraft is assigned to the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing at Bagram Airfield. Coalition forces delivered personnel and supplies to Fayzabad Airport in support of the recent mudslide in Badakhshan province. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Cohen A. Young)

KABUL INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, Afghanistan - Afghan National Army soldiers and advisors board a C-130 J-30 at Kabul International Airport, Afghanistan May 5, 2014. The aircraft is assigned to the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing at Bagram Airfield. Coalition forces delivered personnel and supplies to Fayzabad Airport in support of the recent mudslide in Badakhshan province. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Cohen A. Young)

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - U.S. Air Force Capt. Gregory Caylor, a pilot assigned to the 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing reviews his flight plan and prepares for pre-checks while at Bagram Airfield May 5, 2014. Caylor and his crew flew to Kabul International Airport to pick-up personnel and supplies as part of a Coalition Forces collective that supported the Afghan government with humanitarian relief after a mudslide flowed through a village in the Badakhshan province. Caylor, a native of Dayton, Ohio is deployed from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Cohen A. Young)

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - U.S. Air Force Capt. Gregory Caylor, a pilot assigned to the 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing reviews his flight plan and prepares for pre-checks while at Bagram Airfield May 5, 2014. Caylor and his crew flew to Kabul International Airport to pick-up personnel and supplies as part of a Coalition Forces collective that supported the Afghan government with humanitarian relief after a mudslide flowed through a village in the Badakhshan province. Caylor, a native of Dayton, Ohio is deployed from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Cohen A. Young)

DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Airmen from the 317th Airlift Group, currently deployed as the 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, transported humanitarian aid to a remote part of Afghanistan on May 4, 2014.

Heavy rains in the Badakhshan region of Afghanistan lead to the collapse of a mountain side. An ensuing landslide destroyed the town of Aab Bareek, killing most of its inhabitants and burying the town in up to 50 meters of debris in some areas.

Shortly after, the Airmen from the 774th EAS were called upon to provide support in the form of air-land humanitarian support.

The 774th typically provides air-land, aeromedical evacuation and air-drop capabilities to U.S. Central Command. Their daily flights include hauling food, water, ammunition and other supplies to bases in theater. Aeromedical evacuation missions bring wounded coalition troops to better medical facilities for treatment. Immediately after hearing of the landslide, the 774th prepared to assist.

"Our ops were in constant contact with the Air Mobility Division, discussing potential courses of action," said Lt. Col. Joseph Miller, 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron commander. "We placed additional aircrews into alert status in order to have maximum flexibility for response options once a decision to go was made."

As the only unit with large-scale air-logistics capabilities in theater, the 774th EAS immediately began researching possible airdrop and air-to-land locations. They found Fayzabad Airfield, Afghanistan, 10 nautical miles from the landslide site. The next day a forklift and 28,000 pounds of food, water, tents, blankets and other necessities were in the air with only three hours notice.

"This is a testament to our crews training and professionalism," said Lt. Col. Mitch Spiller, 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron director of operations. "We're able to confidently send them into an unknown, mountainous, high threat, complex environment and know they will flawlessly execute the mission, because it's just what we do."

Days later, Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai visited the site of the disaster. To prepare for the visit, the 774th EAS flew two aircraft containing his presidential guard and additional support personnel to Fayzabad. The next day they flew Karzai, his top advisors and his personal security team to the site of the landslide and back.

"We try to approach every mission the same," Spiller said. "Whether we are hauling a plane full of backlog cargo or the President of Afghanistan, we still approach the mission with the same level of professionalism and attention to detail."

Miller agreed with Spiller that professionalism and attention detail are what the 317th AG is all about.

"I'm very proud of this team of incredible Airmen," Miller said. "They always step up and flawlessly execute whatever mission is asked of them, without hesitation or reservation."

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