JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C -- Two C-17 Globemaster III left Joint base Charleston carrying 30.6 tons of relief supplies to Alexandria International Airport, Alexandria, Louisiana, in response to Hurricane Harvey Aug. 29.
Once the aircraft arrived in Louisiana, the cargo was offloaded and brought to strategic forward positions to assist in relief efforts.
Preparations for this began Friday when four aircrews were placed into alert status in case the C-17 fleet here was called upon to aid in hurricane relief efforts. As the crews left, additional crews were placed into alert status and ready to launch in order to continue relief operations.
“Our first utilization of these alert aircraft occurred yesterday,” said Lt. Col. Erin Meinders, 437th Operations Group deputy commander. “We had two crews launch to prepare for the President's visit to the region today. Furthermore, we had two crews launch today to carry relief cargo and support personnel into the region.”
Aircrews were comprised of members from the 14th, 15th and 16th Airlift Squadrons. Each time a crew was called upon, they were able to depart within three hours of tasking. All of this was done while still continuing to support daily combat sustainment missions to the U.S. Central Command theater of operations.
“The members of the 437th Operations Group have done an amazing job identifying and preparing crews, launching crews off of alert, and immediately reconstituting those crews as soon as they launch,” said Meinders. “It's amazing to see how hard the crews and squadron support personnel work. It's even more humbling to see how they've surged to help out their fellow Americans. They're excited to bring hope and relief to folks that have been impacted by the storm ... and we're very proud of them.”
A crew member aboard one of the aircraft is a Texas native and was excited to help out his home state.
"Being from Texas, I jumped at the opportunity to do this. I'm not able to be home to help my family and friends, but being able to do this humanitarian aid for the hurricane allows me to extend some help to anyone in need right now and that is rewarding all in its own," said Senior Airman Justin Hampton, 16th Airlift Squadron loadmaster.
The 437th Airlift Wing commander was proud to see his Airmen demonstrate flexibility and an eagerness to help their fellow countrymen in a time of need. He said this operation demonstrates one of the many diverse capabilities the C-17 brings to the table.
"Natural disasters are an unfortunate reality and our thoughts are with everybody who has been affected by Hurricane Harvey. Our team quickly answered the call as we rapidly generated aircraft and aircrew for any emerging requirements,” said Col. Jimmy Canlas, 437th AW commander. “Our team has responded to this relief effort by getting supplies to those in need. This is what we are trained to do ... no matter the mission, we are ready to get any cargo to any place in the world in a moment's notice."