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Homeland Security

McChord Airmen complete second humanitarian airlift to American Samoa

by Staff Sgt. Eric Burks
62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

10/14/2009 - PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (AFNS) -- A C-17 Globemaster III aircrew from McChord Air Force Base, Wash., touched down at Pago Pago International Airport on Oct. 10, delivering more than 42,000 pounds of Federal Emergency Management Agency cargo to American Samoa in support of ongoing relief operations.

The mission was the aircrew's second humanitarian airlift to the Samoan Islands, which were devastated by a tsunami Sept. 29.

The aircrew's first mission to Pago Pago Oct. 2 brought nine FEMA members and 17,000 pounds of communications equipment to the island.

The cargo on this flight was 13 pallets of yurt tent kits for American Samoan families affect by the tsunami, said Mike McCoy, the logistics section chief for FEMA here.

The kits give families the means to remain in their villages and begin the recovery process, he said. Approximately 2,000 people from 200 families were on the most recent waiting list.

In addition to the yurt tent and setup materials, kits include cotton blankets, toiletries, sleeping pads, a camp cooking kit, and other items, Mr. McCoy said.

"It's a real team effort to get these kits to the families in need," he said. FEMA has been working with the Air Force, American Samoa government, American Samoa Telecommunications Authority, and other agencies to bring aid to the families.

"It's an honor to fly these missions," said Capt. John Cortney, a 7th Airlift Squadron aircraft commander. "Supporting humanitarian relief operations is very rewarding, knowing that your efforts have an immediate, positive impact on the lives of many people."

The Airmen also completed a humanitarian airlift mission Oct. 9 to Padang, Indonesia, giving them a total of three humanitarian missions completed in just over a week.

"I'm extremely proud of our crew," Captain Cortney said. "We've put in a lot of hours and moved a lot of cargo this week, but no one has missed a beat. We've gone on and off alert status, overcome equipment challenges, and have had several last-minute changes in mission details. But at the end of the day, each mission has been a success, delivering critical supplies and equipment to those in need."

Since leaving McChord AFB Oct. 1, the 7th AS Airmen have taken their C-17 more than 23,000 nautical miles and delivered a total of more than 146,000 pounds of cargo in support of humanitarian relief operations, thus far.

"We don't always know where the next mission will take us," said Tech. Sgt. Derrick Russell, assigned to the 7th AS. "We might be taking supplies downrange, we might be flying another humanitarian airlift, or we might be headed home. But whatever the mission and wherever the destination, we're always ready."

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