JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Airmen from Joint Base Charleston departed aboard a C-17 Globemaster III in support of Hurricane Harvey relief efforts aiming to deliver 15,779 pounds of medical supplies and more than 20 emergency responders to Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas Aug. 30.
Aircrew members responded quickly despite receiving a short notice requirement to support the Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief mission.
“We were called about an hour before we were supposed to show up,” said Capt. Adam Kouroupas, C-17 pilot. “As an alert crew we’re packed and ready to go. We make sure we have the mission planning done including airfield reviews, weather checks, and notifications on a slightly condensed timeline.”
The alert mission is crucial to the rapid deployment of logistics and manpower during natural disasters, and requires aircrews to mobilize at a moment’s notice.
“Knowing we were on alert for something like this we pre-briefed everything at home,” said Kouroupas. “I’m excited to do it and I’m glad we’re out here.”
The aircrew flew to Pope Army Air Field, North Carolina, and Kelly Field Annex, Texas, to receive supplies and pick up emergency responders from the 43rd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron and 959th Medical Operations Squadron to deliver to Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas.
Little Rock AFB is the staging location for the aeromedical evacuation mission during the hurricane relief efforts. The base is set to host AE units supporting medical missions going in and out of Houston, Texas, including the movement of patients affected by the disaster.
Providing aid to U.S. allies and partner nations is a mission the Air Force supports regularly. Some Airmen involved saw this HADR mission as an opportunity to give back to Americans at home.
“It’s just a blessing to be able to show Americans what our military does for their country,” said Lt. Col. Michael MacLain, 43rd AES flight commander. “They always see us somewhere else and now they get a first-hand look of what we do in their own backyard.”
Airmen of the 19th Logistics Readiness Squadron were critical in the download of supplies and movement of Airmen upon arrival to Little Rock AFB.
“I think what we’re doing is great,” said Master Sgt. Bruce Halbert, 19th Logistics Readiness Squadron aircraft services superintendent. “Some of us wanted to go to Houston to help out but with what we’re doing here, we weren’t able to leave. Being able to be a part in this makes me feel awesome. I know a lot of the Airmen are stoked about putting forth effort to help out those folks since we can’t physically be there.”
Maj. Justin Reis, 959th Medical Operations Squadron critical care air transport team physician, attributes teamwork and readiness to the effectiveness of the response to Hurricane Harvey.
“I think we are very fortunate to be able to help out our fellow Americans in such a time of need. When unexpected, devastating events occur, we are fortunate to join forces with local, federal agencies and volunteers,” said Reis. ”I think our year round training prepares us for our missions stateside and abroad. We’re very well prepared and look forward to the mission at hand.”