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Joint-Task Force Haiti coordinate first air delivery

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Marissa Tucker
  • 43rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
In response to the earthquake that devastated Haiti Jan. 12, the first humanitarian air drop of supplies took place Jan. 18 from Pope as part of Operation Unified Response.

A task initiated and planned by the18th Air Force, Headquarters Air Mobility Command and the 618th Tanker Airlift Control Center, the drop included more than 55,000 pounds of water and meals ready to eat, meal packages used by armed forces which include more than 3,500 calories meant to sustain servicemembers while living in field conditions.

Airmen from the 437th Airlift Wing at Charleston Air Force Base, S.C. carried out the mission, coordinating and executing the drop. Soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg Army Post packed 40 palates of supplies onto a C-17 Globemaster, which dropped the cargo to ground forces near Port Au Prince, Haiti, said Lt. Col. Leon Strickland, Aircraft Commander for the mission.

"This is what we train for and we are very excited to be able to help the nation of Haiti," he said. "To be able to carry out the mission and be the first to do so with the help of so many Airmen and Soldiers is an honor."

Since the earthquake, Air Force leaders have been working around the clock to plan relief efforts for the country. AMC has delivered more than 1,500 tons of supplies to the region since Jan. 13.

For many of the crew members, this was their first experience with a humanitarian air delivery.

"It is definitely a privilege to be a part of the first air delivery to Haiti," said Staff Sgt. Brad Edwards, a loadmaster with the 437th Airlift Wing of Charleston Air Force Base, S.C. "Knowing how much the people there need our help and actually being a part of the mission makes you realize the severity of the situation. I'm just glad I could do something to help."

Members of Joint-Task Force Haiti received the cargo on the ground and distributed it through USAID and other relief personnel there.

The delivery was the first of many planned for the following weeks as U. S. Forces explore different methods of delivering personnel and aid to Haiti, said Maj. Jeff Daniels, Mission Commander for the air delivery.

"With Haiti's strained airport and crowded airspace we have to find alternate ways to deliver aid," he said. "Commanding this mission truly is the highlight of my career and we will continue to do what we can to help the nation of Haiti."