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C-17s airlift Qatari mobile hospital to Pakistan

by Staff Sgt. Alicia Prakash
U.S. Central Command Air Forces Forward Public Affairs

10/18/2005 - SOUTHWEST ASIA -- An Air Force C-17 Globemaster III transported a Qatari mobile hospital to Pakistan in support of earthquake relief operations Oct. 15.

Airmen loaded seven Qatari soldiers and 90,000 pounds of cargo on the aircraft, and flew to Islamabad, Pakistan.

The group included two medics, two drivers and three vehicle mechanics. Cargo included two all-terrain vehicles filled with medical equipment, a five-ton truck, a generator and a trailer.

"It was very wonderful to go," said Saeed A.N. Mohammad, a Qatari army pharmacist and nurse. He and three other Pakistan natives on the team were anxious to assist in the relief efforts. The four expressed relief that the earthquake did not affect their immediate families.

In Islamabad, the soldiers waited nearly an hour before deplaning because of inclement weather. Pakistanis and crews from Charleston Air Force Base, S.C. and McGuire AFB, N.J., offloaded the vehicles and medical supplies.

C-17 loadmaster Airman 1st Class Dan Gutowski, providing airlift support was “just another day” on the job. But the Airman, from Charleston’s 15th Airlift Squadron was ready to help.

"I know the earthquake caused a lot of damage and the Pakistani people really need our assistance," he said. "I'm glad I'm in the position to make it happen."

Since Oct. 9, C-17s have flown 938,000 pounds of cargo, 182 pallets and 69 passengers into Pakistan, said Maj. Brent Keenan, the Detachment 2, 817th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron C-17 operations commander.

The earthquake caused massive destruction in the country’s northwest frontier province and some districts of Kashmir. It destroyed more than 200,000 homes, killing an estimated 40,000 people and injuring 52,000, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Because of the amount of devastation, and the volume of relief supplies headed to Pakistan, operations on the ground are challenging, said Tech. Sgt. Jeffrey Mitchell, a flight expeditor with McGuire’s contingency response group.

Sergeant Mitchell said downloading aircraft and uploading helicopters with supplies can be quite a feat on an airport runway that has so many people and moving parts.

The Qatari army has contributed directly to the relief efforts in Pakistan, only because the C-17s providing the airlift to get the Qatari soldiers and supplies where the help was needed, Mr. Mohammad said.

"We are very thankful (for Americans)," Mr. Mohammad said. "We are all human, like brothers."

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