From days to hours: March reservists respond with expeditious airlift support

  • Published
  • By Darnell Gardner
  • 452 AMW public affairs
Airmen from the 452nd Air Mobility Wing at March Air Reserve Base, received initial notification on Oct. 31, from the Air Force Reserve Command Force Generation Center, Robins Air Force Base, Ga., that a Presidential- and Secretary of Defense-directed movement of 69 power/utility trucks would occur from March Field, in support of the states ravaged by Hurricane Sandy.

"The U.S. President and our Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator have asked that we quickly get these resources moving eastbound to help aid in the recovery effort--we will provide as much resources as the states are requesting," stated Veronica Verde, external affairs officer, FEMA.

Citizen Airmen assigned to the aerial port operations and other support agencies, answered the call to duty within hours of the initial notification. A C-5 Galaxy from Travis Air Force Base, Calif. and a C-17 Globemaster III from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., arrived before dawn, so March personnel could load trucks and equipment, provided by some of Southern California's largest electrical utility companies, for the cross-country flight.

"We received the call this morning to transport response equipment for the recovery effort on the East Coast, due to super-storm Sandy," said Lt. Col. John Jost, pilot, 729th Airlift Squadron. "Our entire crew is made up of reservists who volunteered for this mission. We are more than happy to do our part to contribute to the response efforts."

"Right now, we (March crews) are setting up to take about 125,000 pounds of cargo out to Stewart Air National Guard Base, N.Y., just north of New York City, where we will unload the cargo, do a quick-turn and head back to March Field tonight," Jost said.

Raymond Hicks, local public affairs manager, Southern California Edison was on-hand during the uploading of equipment. He expressed how excited he was to see the vehicles being loaded, specifically noting the difference that it is going to make. "Our original plan was to convoy 70-80 vehicles to the disaster area, which would have taken about four days, but having the U.S. Air Force fly them there, the crews and equipment will be there in a matter of hours," he said.

This is a wonderful opportunity to see the military and private industry work together to make a difference in the people's lives back East, said Hicks.

During the loading of trucks onto the aircraft, Tech. Sgt. Dennis Cordova, loadmaster, 729th AS, took time to explain how every piece of cargo must be within weight and balance limits so the aircraft is able to perform at optimal levels.

Southern California Edison. spokesperson, David Song said, "We see that this is a pretty efficient process. The U.S. Air Force has everything under control and we are very pleased that they were able to assist us with getting our equipment to where it is needed."

The electric company will be deploying vehicles that are required to restore service in this type of situation, such as line-trucks, bucket trucks, trouble-man vehicles and accessory vehicles, he said.

"We expect to be there for about two to three weeks, but are prepared to remain there as long as Consolidated Edison deems necessary, said Song."

Three March C-17 Globemaster IIIs and dozens of crewmembers participated around the clock in relief efforts along with C-5 Galaxy and C-17 aircraft from Air Mobility Command, Air Force Reserve Command and Air National Guard units. A total of 290 passengers and 123 trucks were transported to the disaster area.

"This operation demonstrates the strength of our air mobility system," said Col. Samuel Mahaney, 452d AMW commander. "By leveraging our reserve component in partnership with our active duty airmen we are able to provide rapid response to national requirements."

We are extremely proud of our aerial porters, logistics planners, aircrews and airlift controllers. Our Citizen Airmen, members of the Air Force Reserve, have responded gallantly to this national crisis and are working at the highest operations tempo to ensure the delivery of this essential equipment in the fastest possible time, he said.