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Reserve Airmen support Ebola fight on the ground

MCCHORD FIELD, Wash. (AFNS) -- About 15 air transportation specialists from the 446th Airlift Wing here are scheduled to depart for Dakar, Senegal, Nov. 8, to support ground personnel for the campaign against Ebola during Operation Unified Assistance.

The wing's Citizen Airmen from the 36th and 86th Aerial Port Squadrons have been active since early October, completing computer-based training, hands-on training, and medical evaluations, and will fill in the areas of air cargo loading and unloading, special handling, air transportation operations and load planning.

"I appreciate the 36th and 86th Aerial Port members stepping up to the plate for this deployment," said Col. Bryan Runion, the 446th Mission Support Group commander. "The situation in the West African area of responsibility has been in the news quite a bit lately. There's been no hesitation among the porters to go on this deployment. A common response has been, 'This is what we do.'"

The Reservists are set to be across the pond until May 2015.

Chief Christopher Dietz, a 86th APS air transportation manager, said the team will most likely be moving passengers, medical equipment, and supplies during the half-year tour.

The six month absence from home creates a void on the home front for the deploying Airmen.

"In addition, I thank their families and employers for their support," Runion continued. "They also make this possible, and we will do everything we can to support them as well."

Air Force Reserve Command is providing vital support to the anti-Ebola effort. Citizen Airman volunteers provide significant capability, while working alongside their active-duty, and Air National Guard partners.

"I rest assured knowing that our aerial porters have been briefed, trained, and are prepared to do the job," Runion said.