Alaska Guard Airmen Aid Philippine Relief Efforts
By Air Force Lt. Bernie Kale
American Forces Press Service
CAMP DENALI, Alaska, Nov. 26, 2013 Nine Alaska Air National Guard members with the 176th Wing’s 249th Airlift Squadron are working in the Philippines in support of Operation Damayan, the relief effort to assist citizens affected by Typhoon Haiyan.
Pacific Air Forces placed active-duty airmen and Alaska Air Guard members from Alaska-based C-17 Globemaster cargo aircraft squadrons on alert shortly after the initial disaster reports from the Philippines were received.
“We departed Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson [in Alaska] on Nov. 13 and so far every day has been something new,” said Air Force Master Sgt. Brian Johnson, a C-17 loadmaster with the 249th squadron. “We ended up loading up two 42,000-pound vehicles and a pallet of water, which we delivered to the city of Tagloban.”
Johnson, along with some other Guard members and active service members, deployed on the first aircraft deployed from Elmendorf-Richardson headed to the Philippines.
“On one trip to the capital, we had to leave quickly because we had a pregnant woman who was 11 days overdue and had begun bleeding,” Johnson said. “We quickly transported the refugees to Kadena Air Base, Japan, where the pregnant woman was met with medical professionals.”
There are currently three C-17s from Elmendorf-Richardson with a combination of active duty and Alaska Air Guardsmen operating jointly.
The first aircraft is expected to return to Alaska early Nov. 30, while the two remaining aircraft and crews will deploy to Kadena Air Base in Japan from where they’ll fly missions in support of recovery operations in the Philippines.