Air Force Completes First Georgia Humanitarian Aid Mission
By Air Force Capt. Erin Dorrance
Special to American Forces Press Service
TBILISI, Georgia, Aug. 14, 2008 - A U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III transport jet departed Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and landed at Tbilisi International Airport here yesterday, delivering $1 million in humanitarian aid to reduce the suffering of the people of the former Soviet republic of Georgia.
The joint military effort supported coordination by the U.S. State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development with Georgian officials. The Defense Department was directed to support the effort with a joint U.S. military operation that launched with the delivery of 16 pallets of medicine, clothing, sleeping bags, cots and other essential items.
"Our sole goal is to safely and rapidly deliver humanitarian aid to Georgia to alleviate human suffering and save lives," said Col. Benjamin Everson, chief of U.S. Army Europe's International Operations Division. "We will continue to support this humanitarian mission until the host nation and the U.S. State Department determine that it is no longer needed."
The C-17, based out of McGuire Air Force Base, N.J., was operated by a 3rd Airlift Squadron crew from Dover Air Force Base, Del., and landed amid cheers and smiles from local nationals on the airfield.
One pallet after another was quickly offloaded from the aircraft. The Georgians on the ground continually thanked the U.S. military team for its efforts.
"We are in dire need of these supplies," said Sergey Khomchenko, Counterpart Community and Humanitarian Assistance Program director. "Thank you so much for helping us in this great time of need. These supplies will surely save lives."
U.S. officials, including a U.S. European Command survey team, continue to coordinate closely with the Georgian government to determine what aid is most needed within the country and how best to distribute it.
Navy Lt. Cmdr. Corey Barker, a U.S. European Command spokesman, praised the joint humanitarian relief effort.
"We are very pleased that the joint military community -- EuCom, U.S. Army Europe and U.S. Air Forces in Europe -- have the opportunity to provide logistical support to bring these humanitarian supplies here," he said. "EuCom forces will remain ready to support as further needs are assessed."
(Air Force Capt. Erin Dorrance serves in the 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs Office.)
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