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Incirlik moving Pakistan earthquake aid

10/21/2005 - INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey (AFPN) -- With the determination of an ant colony, Airmen here are busy moving humanitarian aid cargo bound for Pakistan.

Incirlik has played host to an array of international aircraft and provided round-the-clock support since the relief operation started after the Oct. 8 Pakistan earthquake.

From Oct. 18 to 19, U.S. and Turkish Airmen helped the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and the country of Turkey move urgently-needed supplies.

Five C-130 Hercules from Italy, Great Britain, Greece and France arrived and Airmen loaded them with 29 pallets of supplies from the commission’s warehouse in Iskenderun, Turkey. The cargo planes flew the aid -- which included 10,000 tents -- to Islamabad, Pakistan Oct. 19.

“The people (in Pakistan) are in urgent need of shelter and of course other things,” said Metin Corabatir, the commission’s public information officer for Turkey. “We are here to save lives."

Incirlik is also helping save lives, and support the United Nations and NATO in getting relief aid to Pakistan, said Col. Tip Stinnette, 39th Air Base Wing commander.

“Incirlik is providing enabling support as an air-bridge for more than 850 tons of vital supplies (destined) for the region, while continuing support to other missions,” he said.

Loading the five aircraft was a joint effort. The aid arrived on 19 trucks. Then U.S. and Turkish Airmen -- most from the 39th Logistics Readiness Squadron -- prepared and loaded blankets, tents and stoves for the first airlift to Pakistan, said Maj. Todd Cheney, the squadron commander.

“It was truly a team effort. We had people working throughout the night unloading trucks, preparing pallets and then loading aircraft,” the major said.

Mr. Corabatir said 21 more truckloads of supplies remain in the warehouse awaiting airlift to Pakistan.

“If not for the combined efforts of our international friends, the supplies would not have gotten to the victims as quickly,” Mr. Corabatir said. “Weather has been our only big delay.”

To get the first supplies out, Airmen went into 24-hour operations for three days, said Capt. Paul Cornwell, logistics readiness squadron operations officer.

“The cargo is coming in trucks hand-stacked and in burlap sacks,” the captain said. “It’s time consuming to offload the trucks by hand and then turn around and build up the aircraft pallets.”

Officials expect the humanitarian mission to continue for the next couple of weeks. But that does not deter the determination of Airmen loading cargo, Captain Cornwell said.

“There will be some family who we’ll never meet or see who have nothing but the clothes on their backs,” he said. “Getting them into one of these tents with some blankets to stay warm just might take the edge off what has happened.

“Hopefully, it will help them to start the rebuilding process,” the captain said.

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