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Aerial port operators help FEMA agents

by Staff Sgt. Melissa Phillips
305th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

09/14/01 - MCGUIRE AIR FORCE BASE, N.J. (AFPN) -- While terror reigned in the streets of New York and Washington on Sept. 11 after the attacks at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the base here became a center of control in the midst of the chaos.

Technicians from the 305th Aerial Port Squadron rushed nonstop around the flightline Sept. 12 as they received more than 250 tons of emergency management cargo, said Master Sgt. Greg Cannon, 305 APS passenger operations superintendent.

At the same time, about 250 Federal Emergency Management Agency search and rescue task force team members, and about 300 military people were arriving in support of the relief efforts; all this within the first two days after the disaster, he said.

"McGuire Air Force Base has served as an important staging area for several of our urban search and rescue teams," said Douglas Welte, of FEMA Public Affairs. "We appreciate their support. They've done a tremendous job."

Many of the aerial porters along with other base agencies worked long hours to support the incoming humanitarian aid, said Lt. Col. David Terrell, 305 APS commander.

"The devastation in New York is what we train for all the time ... my guys were ready for this," Terrell said. "I called some people off (vacation), but they thanked me for it. They're good Americans, and they just want to be a part of this."

Staff Sgt. Daniel Spain, 305 APS shift supervisor, has been in more than six humanitarian relief efforts in his career. His job of uploading and downloading cargo is not glamorous and often routine, but it is gratifying, he said.

"I try to instill in my airmen that every day our job affects someone," he said. "We load everything from building and medical supplies to food.

"We can't physically help the victims but we're able to affect the victims in a different way," Spain said. "An operation such as this is why we join and continue to serve."

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