Mobility Airmen make a difference in Puerto Rico

Airmen help deliver food and water to local villages during Hurricane Maria relief efforts, Ponce, Puerto Rico. (Courtesy Photo)

Airmen help deliver food and water to local villages during Hurricane Maria relief efforts, Ponce, Puerto Rico. (Courtesy Photo)

An Airman helps deliver food and water to local villages during Hurricane Maria relief efforts, Ponce, Puerto Rico. (Courtesy Photo)

An Airman helps deliver food and water to local villages during Hurricane Maria relief efforts, Ponce, Puerto Rico. (Courtesy Photo)

Local villages destroyed by Hurricane Maria, near the city of Ponce, Puerto Rico. (Courtesy Photo)

Local villages destroyed by Hurricane Maria, near the city of Ponce, Puerto Rico. (Courtesy Photo)

PONCE, Puerto Rico -- Airmen from the 821st Contingency Response Group, stationed at Travis Air Force Base, California, were poised immediately to support relief operations across the Caribbean in support of Hurricane Maria.

The 621st Contingency Response Wing has been actively engaged in all hurricane response support. In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, 157 members were tasked to deploy to Roosevelt Roads, Ponce, and Aguadilla in Puerto Rico. The wing continues to support from stateside locations as well to help manage airflow and relief mission support in coordination with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and U.S. Northern Command.

“These humanitarian missions demonstrate our values and leave a lasting positive impression on those we help,” said Gen. Carlton D. Everhart II, Commander, Air Mobility Command. “The amount of good that mobility airmen deliver deeply reflects the core values of our nation.”

Contingency Response Airmen enable the command’s global reach by employing rapidly-deployable, cross-functional teams to establish or expand airbases, supporting combatant commands around the globe. The expertise the CRW airmen bring to the fight ensures additional airfield and airlift capability is available to move troops, vital supplies, and equipment whenever and wherever needed.

According to AMC officials, the command has actively supported relief efforts following Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria with nearly 800 sorties delivering 11 million pounds of supplies.

“Mobility Airmen are typically the first ones in and the last ones to depart. This is a critically important mission and the CRW Airmen are making a difference,” said Master Sgt. Dale Nyhus, contingency response team chief at the airfield in Ponce, Puerto Rico.

Two airmen in particular are making a difference in the local community at Ponce.

With the approval of their CRT chiefs, Tech. Sgt. Erik Silva and Staff Sgt. Dallas Maltby, both with the 821st CRG out of Travis AFB, took the initiative to go out and help the local community during their down time assisting various agencies in support of humanitarian aid.

“We loved the opportunity we had to work with different agencies, and the various contacts we made with the community,” Silva said.

The airmen were able to gather information from the local community of Tibes, where they heard local municipalities in the area had not received any food or water.

The team connected with Jorge Ortiz and Sarivette Figueroa, airport operations supervisors for Jet Blue airlines at Ponce, and were able to receive additional supplies to deliver aid to remote mountain villages in the area.

One of the local Army Soldiers from the Puerto Rico National Guard was one of the many affected by this natural disaster.

The roof of his house was blown off by the hurricane, so his family had been living in the basement because they were concerned the house might be looted if they left it unattended.

“We were able to help the family by delivering food and water directly to them, and we also helped place a tarp over their roof,” Silva said. “It was essential because the mountain villages were still getting rain every day.”

The two airmen epitomize the “Service Before Self” core value of the U.S. Air Force.

The Air Force brings unique capabilities to bear in disaster responses--expeditionary and aeromedical airmen, airlift, refueling, and mobility support -- the core mobility missions are the foundation for humanitarian assistance and disaster response, providing the most timely reach and results.