by Airman 1st Class Jessica Hines
21st Space Wing Public Affairs Office
DENVER, Colo. — Airmen from the 21st Logistics Readiness Squadron helped provide support for more than 550 military families returning to their home of record from Japan in support of Operation Pacific Passage March 23 to 25.
Following the 9.0-magnitude earthquake March 11 that triggered a massive tsunami in Japan, government officials offered military families the chance to return to their home of record while rescue and recovery efforts continue in the country.
In preparation for the arrival of dependants from Japan, the 21st Space Wing placed a team of 34 Airmen on stand-by, who were poised and ready to respond, should their assistance have been needed.
The team on stand-by consisted of Airmen and civilians from Personnel Support for Contingency Operations, civilian personnel, family support, lodging, medical, finance, public affairs, legal, chaplain services and air terminal administration.
Many Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines have responded to Japan in the past few weeks, offering aid and support. In addition, servicemembers are working together to ensure families, wanting to return home, make it safely home and with proper care and support.
“It has been amazing the way the Army, Navy, Marines and the Air Force came together to get these families to where they need to be,” said Lt. Col. Duff Wier, Buckley Air Force Base LRS commander.
“The folks from Peterson have been extremely helpful to make the process happen, we couldn’t have done it without them,” he added.
In the past couple of weeks, flights from Japan carrying military families have been returning through Seattle-Tacoma Internal Airport, Travis Air Force Base, Calif., and more recently through Denver, Colo.
The 460th Space Wing from Buckley Air Force Base, who led assistance efforts in Denver, provided more than 100 military and civilian personnel in addition to over 100 Navy counterparts.
When the call for support to Denver was made, Peterson Air Force Base quickly answered. Master Sgt. Brenda Pyle, Staff Sgt. John Sweeney, and Airman 1st Class Lisa Klevenberg, from the 21st LRS, worked night shifts and part day shifts, coordinating manifests from flights leaving Japan with commercial travel offices to get connecting flights home for more than 550 families and more than two dozen pets.
“As soon as they (CTO) book the flights, they forward the information back to us, we print them and put it in their files,” said Airman Klevenberg, 21st LRS passenger travel clerk.
When families arrived in Denver, they were shuttled to a hangar where they received support from agencies such as finance, legal and travel. The Salvation Army was present to help entertain families, offer support and even set up a play area for children as parents processed through the hangar.
“It is a privilege the 21st Space Wing can offer assistance to our sister services and their families in this time of need,” said Col. Stephen Whiting, 21st SW commander.
For updates on recovery and support efforts in Japan, visit: http://www.af.mil/japandisasterassistance.asp