by Staff Sgt. Stephen J. Collier
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Two Air Force Reserve aircraft and aircrews assigned to the Colorado-based 302nd Airlift Wing received short-notice orders over the weekend to airlift evacuees out of Haiti and deliver needed supplies to the earthquake-stricken Caribbean nation.
The C-130 Hercules aircraft were re-routed from previously planned missions to provide additional airlift capability into the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, where they delivered cargo ranging from food and water to needed medical supplies.
During an early morning Jan. 17 mission into Toussaint Louverture International Airport, the capital’s airport, 302nd Airlift Wing members also were tasked with transporting a handful of evacuees to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., who required immediate medical attention. As reported by the Air Force’s 618th Tanker Airlift Control Center, the aircraft was met by ambulances that took the patients to a local hospital.
The other 302nd AW aircraft was assigned to move both Soldiers and vehicles from the 82nd Airborne Division into the Haitian capital where they were expected to provide additional security to U.S. military personnel. Capt. Brian McReynolds, a C-130 pilot on the mission airlifting the Soldiers, said they were “calm, professional and seemed eager to get on the ground to do their job.”
“We felt a sense of excitement but at the same time stayed focused on what we had to do especially since we knew another 302nd crew was doing the same thing the next day,” the captain said. “We wanted to get the word back to them to make things easier and safer.”
The 302nd AW’s support is far from over. Slated to leave later this week, two additional aircraft and more than 50 members of the 302nd AW are projected to depart for Puerto Rico where they will support a previously-scheduled rotation to Operation Coronet Oak. The operation, which typically provides intra-theater airlift into Central and South America, is now supporting critical Haitian relief missions.
Captain McReynolds, who has supported humanitarian missions in the past, including airlifting wheelchairs across the U.S. for distribution in Iraq, noted how great it was to witness numerous countries working together to support “a small, and sometimes, easily-forgotten country.”
“I think I can speak for my (air) crew when I say we knew it was going to be a very long night of flying,” he recalled. “But we were still eager to help out in any way we could.”
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