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Reservists load supplies for Haiti relief

by Master Sgt. Chance Babin
Air Force Reserve Public Affairs

1/19/2010 - HOMESTEAD AIR RESERVE BASE, Fla. (AFNS) -- When the call went out for volunteers to help with the Haitian relief effort at Homestead Air Reserve Base; a handful of Reserve aerial port specialist raised their hands.

Aerial port specialists are responsible for all management and movement of cargo and passengers transported in the military airlift system. In the case of a humanitarian disaster like the one in Haiti, it becomes a 24-hour around the clock job.

For Airmen like Staff Sgt. Scott Clements, volunteering for duty just felt like the right thing to do.

"I saw it on the news (the earthquake in Haiti), and I called my supervisor and told him I was ready to go if they needed help. He called me the next day," Sergeant Clements said. "I feel bad for the people of Haiti. I went through (hurricane) Andrew here as a kid. So I feel their pain."

Just four days into his tour, Sergeant Clements has worked 56 hours. Initially only 11 Airmen were here. The team has grown to about 40 now and help is on the way.

"That's a good number to get started, but not enough for the scope," said Capt. John Weeks, the duty officer for the 70th Aerial Port Squadron at Homestead ARB. "We have a team coming in tonight from the Minnesota Guard and that's going to help us out. It's been a huge undertaking, but everyone has kept their cool."

In addition to the help on the way, a group from Dover Air Force Base, Del., has been on the scene for two days.

"I got the call Friday morning," said Tech. Sgt. Valerie McFadden, of the 46th Aerial Port Squadron, Dover AFB, Del. "We were supposed to be going to Puerto Rico for training, but were told we'd be doing a humanitarian mission instead. It's an honor to help someone out. We are so fortunate here, so when they said go, I said 'no problem'. It's part of serving."

The aerial porters stay busy loading pallets with water, food, medical supplies, generators and search and rescue assets, and more.

"Our guys have been outstanding for the challenge they've faced," Captain Weeks said. "They are all volunteers and are working with limited resources'. Their attitudes have been great. They all just want to help."

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