JTF-PO activated, CRW responds to Hurricane Matthew
By Tech. Sgt. Gustavo Gonzalez, 621st Contingency Response Wing
/ Published October 06, 2016
JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- For the third time, the 621st Contingency Response Wing will conduct a Joint Task Force Port Opening, this time in response to Hurricane Matthew.
The 621st CRW sent more than 30 members assigned to the 621st Contingency Response Group from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, to Port Au Prince International Airport, Haiti, Oct. 6, at the request of the government of Haiti for the humanitarian relief efforts.
The team will meet up with U.S. Army Soldiers assigned to the 689th Rapid Port Opening Element and members of the Defense Logistics Agency at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, to form the JTF-PO. First, a Joint Assessment Team will survey initial needs and establish mobility capabilities. Once the JTF-PO arrives at Haiti, they will provide humanitarian assistance in support of the relief efforts after more than 130 people have perished as a result of the natural disaster that hit Haiti on Oct. 4.
"Our initial launch of this interagency assessment team was a total joint base effort," said Col. Chuck Henderson, 621st CRW commander. "We see the dividends of our close partnerships with the 87th Air Base Wing and the 305th Air Mobility Wing every day--especially during today's response to support relief efforts in Haiti. Airpower's global reach is truly amazing when you have the best mobility experts working with you to deliver instruments of national power.”
This mission will mark the first time the JTF-PO will consist of three entities; the 621st CRW, 689th RPOE, and DLA.
“Unfortunately we’re testing this on a real humanitarian operation but it’s working out well so far,” said Col. Leslie Maher, JTF-PO commander. “We’re already seeing the relationships developing that will allow us to be successful.”
The 621st CRW is highly-specialized in training and rapidly deploying personnel to quickly open airfields and establish, expand, sustain, and coordinate air mobility operations. The CRW conducts exercises year round to help prepare for situations such as these and allow the CRW to have the capability of deploying within a 12 hour notice.
“The exercises definitely prepared us because by building those relationships, we’ve already familiarized ourselves with the RPOE,” Maher said. “We already know the faces, we trained together, we know their lingo, and we know who we could trust. That just made this a whole lot easier and getting the band together, it was very successful.”
According to Staff Sgt. Daniel Gonzalez, 621st Contingency Response Squadron aerial porter, was also involved in the last activation of the JTF-PO during the Ebola Crisis in Liberia, which helped him prepare for his deployment to Haiti.
“I’m super excited to go out there to do the things that we’re here for,” Gonzalez said. “The biggest satisfaction is knowing that we can go out there and do what we have to do to get these people the help that they need.”
Maher praised the Airmen for being able to quickly answer the call.
“It’s amazing as you watch these guys get out here and they’ve got everything on their back and you know they’re going to be living possibly 60 days out of what’s on their back, plus all the stuff they need to do their job correctly,” she said. “You just can’t get that anywhere else.”