Air Force Completes First Georgia Humanitarian Aid Mission
By Air Force Capt. Erin Dorrance
Special to American Forces Press Service
TBILISI, Georgia, Aug. 14, 2008 – A U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III transport jet departed Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and landed at Tbilisi International Airport here yesterday, delivering $1 million in humanitarian aid to reduce the suffering of the people of the former Soviet republic of Georgia.
The joint military effort supported coordination by the U.S. State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development with Georgian officials. The Defense Department was directed to support the effort with a joint U.S. military operation that launched with the delivery of 16 pallets of medicine, clothing, sleeping bags, cots and other essential items.
Air Force Staff Sgt. Chris Broegemueller, assigned to the 86th Airlift Wing's Contingency Response Group at Sembach Air Base, Germany, helps to push out the first of 16 pallets aboard a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III in Tbilisi, Georgia, Aug. 13, 2008. The humanitarian assistance delivery consisted of $1 million in U.S.-donated medical supplies, blankets, sleeping bags and bed sheets for the people of Georgia. The delivery was a joint service effort between airmen representing both U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Mobility Command, as well as U.S. Army Europe soldiers. Defense Dept. photo by Air Force Master Sgt. Scott Wagers.
"Our sole goal is to safely and rapidly deliver humanitarian aid to Georgia to alleviate human suffering and save lives," said Col. Benjamin Everson, chief of U.S. Army Europe's International Operations Division. "We will continue to support this humanitarian mission until the host nation and the U.S. State Department determine that it is no longer needed."
The C-17, based out of McGuire Air Force Base, N.J., was operated by a 3rd Airlift Squadron crew from Dover Air Force Base, Del., and landed amid cheers and smiles from local nationals on the airfield.
One pallet after another was quickly offloaded from the aircraft. The Georgians on the ground continually thanked the U.S. military team for its efforts.
"We are in dire need of these supplies," said Sergey Khomchenko, Counterpart Community and Humanitarian Assistance Program director. "Thank you so much for helping us in this great time of need. These supplies will surely save lives."
U.S. officials, including a U.S. European Command survey team, continue to coordinate closely with the Georgian government to determine what aid is most needed within the country and how best to distribute it.
Navy Lt. Cmdr. Corey Barker, a U.S. European Command spokesman, praised the joint humanitarian relief effort.
"We are very pleased that the joint military community -- EuCom, U.S. Army Europe and U.S. Air Forces in Europe -- have the opportunity to provide logistical support to bring these humanitarian supplies here,” he said. "EuCom forces will remain ready to support as further needs are assessed."
(Air Force Capt. Erin Dorrance serves in the 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs Office.)
Humanitarian Supply Flight to Help Bring Relief to Georgia
By Capt. Bryan Woods
Deputy Public Affairs Officer
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany - The 21st Theater Sustainment Command and the U.S. Air Force - Europe began providing emergency humanitarian assistance Aug. 12, 2008 for the people of Georgia in response to the crisis situation.
Soldiers from the 66th Transportation Company and the 39th Transportation Battalion, and airmen from the 723rd Air Mobility Squadron worked 36 straight hours to palletize over 75,000 pounds of emergency shelter items and medical supplies which include tents, blankets, bedding, hygiene items, clothing, beds, cots, and medical supplies in order to support this mission to the Georgian people.
"Due to the real world situation on the ground in Georgia, European Command, United States Army Europe, United States Air Force Europe and 21st TSC expeditiously planned and executed the initial humanitarian supply flight within 24 hours of the cease fire agreement to help bring relief to the Georgian people," said Lt. Col. Robert Curran commander of the 39th Transportation Battalion.
The humanitarian aid supplies were provided from State Department stock at the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Center - Europe's Humanitarian Assistance Program Warehouse in Pirmasens, Germany.
An Air Load Planning officer was in charge of the load as it was received and placed onto aviation pallets. After the loads were inventoried, certified, weighed and strapped down, they were handed over to the Air Force for loading and transport to the destination.
"21st TSC is the lead coordinating Army logistics unit that is packaging, staging and transporting supplies to the Air Force for air movement to Georgia," said Curran.
It is a joint effort involving all services.
"We are augmenting the State Department disaster assistance package with DOD emergency and medical supplies and equipment from Germany to assist Georgian's humanitarian needs on the ground," said Curran. "Further assessments of humanitarian needs are ongoing for follow on support."
"It's a good feeling to be able to do something good for someone during a situation like this," said Sgt. Henry Pinckney from the 5th Quartermaster Company. "I think it is important because you never know when you are going to be the one requiring help one day."
"When we are working against the clock with a 24 hour turnaround everyone is working hard," said Capt. Gabriel Legendry from 39th Trans Battalion and in charge of the loading site at the Deployment Processing Center, "but, it brings a lot of joy to do something good for someone."