Air Force Joins Effort to Help Libyan Evacuees
By Air Force Master Sgt. Jim Fisher
17th Air Force Public Affairs
DJERBA, Tunisia, Mar. 4, 2011 The U.S. military’s contribution to an international effort to end the suffering of Libya’s evacuees began in Italy today when two C-130J Super Hercules aircraft picked up humanitarian aid and headed to Tunisia.
U.S. Airmen from the 435th Air Mobility Squadron, from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, load blankets, tarps and water containers onto C-130 aircraft in Pisa, Italy, March 4, 2011. The aircraft flew the supplies to Tunisia as part of the U.S. government's efforts with the international community to meet the humanitarian needs of the Lybian people and others in the country who fled across the borders during political uprisings. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Brendan Stephens
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The 37th Airlift Squadron, from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, stopped in Pisa, Italy, where they picked up cargo from the U.S. Agency for International Development. The team then flew the aid here, near where tens of thousands of Libyans and foreign nationals have fled due to the recent political uprising in Libya.
Air Force Lt. Col. Charles “Doc” Schlegel, commander of the 435th Air Mobility Squadron, is leading a contingency response team working with aircrews from the 37th ALS on the humanitarian missions. He said his team is excited to partner with 17th Air Force to support the State Department.
“We know that there are a lot of folks that are currently displaced, that will hopefully soon be able to return to their home countries and, hopefully, we can expedite that and bring humanitarian assistance to people who need it,” Schlegel said. “The 17th Air Force did a great job coordinating with the agencies here, making sure the stuff was ready and could be quickly delivered to people who are in need. This is being driven by the State Department and we are ready to support any requests they have.”
Alberto Chidini, coordinator of the Army’s Camp Darby humanitarian Assistance program near Pisa was on the flightline for the pickup in Italy, making sure the humanitarian cargo was ready to load. It’s important for people to be willing to help in situations like the one in Libya and its border regions, he said.
“I’ve seen the reports. Everything is lacking,” Chidini said. “The situation is very bad and our people are ready to react. It’s important because this could happen to anyone and hopefully someone is ready to help. In this case, [it’s] us.
“It makes you feel good, it makes you feel proud,” he added.
While waiting for further requests, the team from Ramstein stayed focused on the task at hand, delivering 2,000 wool blankets, 40 units of plastic sheeting and 9,600 water containers to Djerba. After finishing the first day’s work, the teams regrouped to plan more assistance missions for the days ahead.