"Hubs and Spokes" Keep Honduras Relief Flowing
By Spc. Jeremy Ausburn
Special to American Forces Press Service
CATACAMAS, Honduras, Jan. 11, 1999 Joint Task Force-Bravo's "hub and spoke" logistics system is proving its effectiveness every day in getting relief supplies to those who need it most in this hurricane-ravaged nation.
Hubs and spokes are in use in various parts of Honduras and are the forward bases of Hurricane Mitch relief delivery operations based out of Soto Cano Air Base. A typical hub is the town of Catacamas, in the province of Olancho.
Food, medicine and clothes arrive by truck and helicopter and are sorted according to "spoke" villages' needs, as reported by Honduran officials. CH-47 Chinook helicopters from Company C, 159th Aviation Regiment, and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters from Company D, 228th Aviation Regiment, then deliver the sorted relief goods.
"We fly from Soto Cano to Aguacate, the airstrip outside Catacamas, in the morning and pick up supplies. Once the supplies are loaded, we fly them to whatever village they need to go to. Then, it's back to Aguacate and we continue this round-robin delivery system until the end of the day," said Chinook pilot Capt. Lori Turbak.
Soldiers, airmen and Marines man the hub. The Army takes care of communications, medical activities, resupply operations and aviation needs, including a forward area refueling point at Aquacate airstrip. The airmen and Marines provide security forces.
"The main [security] problem we have is the children who want to get close the helicopters when they're at the villages or when they're parked and locked up for the night," said Air Force Staff Sgt. Gary Andersen, part of the security force at Aguacate.
Although delivering supplies is the main mission of the hub, the Americans tend to do anything they can to help the Hondurans. One such instance was the medical evacuation of a Honduran woman who needed emergency care.
"We found a lady in one of the villages. … We put her and her husband on the helicopter and flew them back to Catacamas so that she could be helped," said Army Maj. Vincent Reap, Company D commander.
Joint Task Force-Bravo is scheduled to set up more "hub and spokes" around Honduras. The next will be in the El Paraiso region.
[Spc. Jeremy Auburn of the 49th Public Affairs Detachment (Airborne), Fort Bragg, N.C., is assigned to support the U.S. military relief mission in Honduras.]