JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. –
It seems each day a new disaster is being broadcast on the world’s televisions or plastered across headlines.
These crises range from natural causes to those man made and can devastate the people in its wake. These people may need to be evacuated, treated medically or provided supplies, oftentimes in austere or ravaged locations.
And that’s where the members of the 305th Air Mobility Wing come in.
In the past year, the wing has twice demonstrated its ability to respond to humanitarian contingencies at a moment’s notice. With its dual capability of airlift and air refueling, the 305th AMW and its personnel proved instrumental in delivering the aid needed.
When a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal on April 26, 2015, crew members of the 6th Airlift Squadron were given a mere 90-minutes notice before embarking on a 32-hour mission to deliver aid.
The Airmen loaded 70,000 pounds of equipment and supplies as well as a 68-person, six-dog Urban Search and Rescue Team – the first responders to reach Nepal.
Their sister squadron also hailing from Joint Base MDL, the 32nd Air Refueling Squadron, met them halfway and expended 120,000 pounds of fuel, enabling a 14.5 hour continuous flight from Joint Base MDL to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar.
“We got to flex the airpower – look at us, in less than 24 hours everyone was spun up and we were going,” said Senior Airman Steven Vangorkom, 6th AS C-17 Globemaster loadmaster. “It was us taking them there from start to finish and then you see them out there, doing their job and helping people.”
Maj. Greg Gaudet, 87th Air Base Wing Command Post chief and C-17 Globemaster pilot, remembers seeing their actions on TV.
“Within hours of them arriving, there were already news reports of people being pulled out of rubble; you could see video of the dogs doing their search.” Gaudet said.
More recently, in March 2016, the Defense and State Departments ordered a “deliberate, safe return of family members” from bases in Turkey due to security concerns in the region – the first time a departure of this nature was conducted in more than a decade.
At the fore of that mission was the 305th Aerial Port Squadron and its detachment at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, through which the returning dependents arrived, brought by JB MDL’s very own C-17 Globemaster cargo aircraft hailing from the 6th AS.
The C-17 and its crew transported 100 spouses and children from Turkey to Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Upon arriving, they were asked to continue on to BWI to alleviate the overflow of evacuees.
“It felt like we were doing something for a good cause,” said 1st Lt. Mary Travis, 6th AS C-17 Globemaster pilot. “All of our missions have a good purpose, this one was just more readily visible – they were right in front of our eyes. Those 101 passengers, they were our mission.”
At BWI, the 305th APS was awaiting their arrival, organizing follow-on travel and lodging for the displaced family members.
“It really shows what we can do as a military and as a country,” said Gaudet. “Given the right resources, we can really accomplish some feats.”