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Yokota Airmen keep steady pace in providing relief

by 1st Lt. Ben Alumbaugh
374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

1/3/2005 - YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan (AFPN) -- About 170 Airmen from here have arrived in Thailand to assist in relief efforts for the countries in southeast Asia struck by tsunamis after a devastating 9.0 magnitude earthquake occurred in the Indian Ocean Dec. 26.

The Airmen from the 374th Airlift Wing have deployed to Utapao, Thailand, to establish a forward-operating location to provide supplies and people throughout the region.

The deployed Airmen include aircrews and maintenance, operational support, medical and communications specialists.

"We're just glad to try and help end the loss of life and human suffering," said Airmen 1st Class Nicholas Mathews, of the 374th Maintenance Squadron.

Eight C-130 Hercules aircraft have deployed to Thailand to support a regional airlift hub by moving people, equipment and humanitarian supplies. The aircraft will remain in Thailand and deliver supplies to more austere locations in the region.

"We've sent out every cargo aircraft we have to support humanitarian relief operations," said Col. Mark Schissler, 374th Airlift Wing commander. "Our aircrews have a wealth of experience operating C-130s in all types of recovery and relief operations. They're (part of) one of the largest airlift operations ever seen."

Most of the Airmen who have deployed did so with two hours notice.

"I think it's especially unique this time of the year," said Maj. Bill Summers, 36th Airlift Squadron director of operations here. "It says a lot about these (Airmen) and their families."

The Airmen have delivered about 57 tons of supplies and equipment to Thailand.

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