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Mission complete for C-130, C-17 aircrews supporting flood relief

by Staff Sgt. Kali L. Gradishar
U.S. AFCENT Combat Camera Team

10/6/2010 - PAKISTAN AIR FORCE BASE CHAKLALA, Pakistan (AFNS) -- As flood waters recede and Pakistan's aid delivery shifts focus from air to ground transportation, the Pakistan government informed the U.S. recently that U.S. military aircraft and other international cargo plane airlift support was no longer required.

At Pakistan's request, the U.S. military has ended its flood relief support using C-17 Globemaster III and C-130 Hercules aircraft Oct. 3.

"Our C-130 and C-17 aircrews were honored to partner with our Pakistani allies in their time of need, and rapidly meet their requests for heavy-lift assistance in support of flood relief," said Vice Adm. Mike LeFever, U.S. defense representative to Pakistan. "We remain ready and prepared to support emergent requests from the government of Pakistan, if such assistance is needed again in the future."

Although cargo aircraft flights have ended, U.S. officials said the commitment to supporting Pakistan's flood relief efforts remains strong.
The U.S. Agency for International Development and other civilian agencies continue to provide humanitarian assistance and recovery assistance throughout Pakistan in support of flood victims. In addition, U.S. military helicopter relief flights continue to operate from Ghazi Aviation Base near Tarbela and Pano Aqil Air Base near Sukkur, while the U.S. Air Force's contingency response element at Pakistan Air Force Base Chaklala continues to support the nationwide distribution of international aid to flood-affected Pakistanis.

Two U.S. Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft conducted the last fixed-wing missions to deliver flood relief supplies in Pakistan Oct.3, flying humanitarian supplies from Chaklala to the Skardu Airport in northern Pakistan.

"When you look at the numbers of folks who have been displaced by the flood, it's good to be able to help out," said Maj. Kevin Baylis, a U.S. Air Force C-130 pilot.

"We've been flying into Skardu, Ghazi and around Pakistan, delivering humanitarian relief supplies," said Tech. Sgt. Matthew Beresky, a U.S. Air Force loadmaster. "Normally there are about four pallets, each weighing about 7,000 pounds, of mainly wheat and water, any other supplies... that people need. We've airlifted probably between 75 to 100,000 pounds a day -- roughly about 25,000 pounds per flight."

From the start, C-130 and C-17 aircrews made significant contributions to Pakistan's flood relief. In addition to the delivery of more than 436,000 halal meals during the early days of the disaster, these aircraft and their aircrews worked in close partnership with Pakistan's military and National Disaster Management Authority to transport more than 5.5 million of relief supplies to flood victims nationwide. The aircraft were also instrumental in the evacuation of thousands of people from flood-affected regions of Pakistan.

"I would say it's definitely significant that we were able to come up here and provide the support ... we got a lot done," Maj. Baylis said.

"I personally feel proud as a reservist, being one of the first to be staged here," Sergeant Beresky said. "This is what you train for -- going to a forward-deployed location like this, flying the missions, getting things done as you need to, and delivering the supplies that need to be delivered."

To date, U.S. military personnel and aircraft, working in partnership with the Pakistan military, have delivered more than 14.5 million pounds of relief supplies and evacuated more than 21,000 people throughout Pakistan's flood-affected areas.

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