McGuire Airmen continue to support Haiti relief |
by Staff Sgt. Monica L. Dalberg
514th Air Mobility Wing
4/14/2010 - JOINT BASE McGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. (AFNS) -- Air Force reservists from the 514th Air Mobility Wing here continue to provide aerial port and translator skills in Haiti for earthquake relief efforts.
Members of the 35th and 88th Aerial Port squadrons arrived in Haiti in mid-February.
Living on Meals, Ready to Eat and residing in tents, the nine volunteers are part of the 24th Air Expeditionary Group responsible for passenger and humanitarian cargo movement, training, and search and rescue.
The 24th AEG has serviced more than 13 different aircraft to include airframes from Cuba, Brazil, France and Russia, as well as American civilian airlines.
Along with their airport management skills, the Airmen are providing critical language translation services. Senior Airman Lesly Toussaint, is a Haitian native fluent in four languages and Tech. Sgt. Roman Kernitski, is a Ukrainian native fluent in Russian and Polish.
Airman Toussaint translates for and assists deployed commanders, contractors, airport employees, and Air Force firefighters as they train the Haitian fire department.
"I was devastated when the earthquake rolled through," Airman Toussaint said. "I knew how poorly the buildings were built."
According to the Department of Sustainable Development in Washington, Haiti and many other Caribbean countries do not have building codes.
"It's a privilege and I'm grateful to be here," Airman Toussaint said. "If not for the Reserve, I might not have this opportunity to help my fellow Haitians."
Sergeant Kernitski translates for Russian aid workers and aircrews.
"Being able to speak another language is definitely a huge plus in the current global environment," Sergeant Kernitski said. "Being a reservist, you know that sooner or later your skills will come in need, especially language skills, but at the same time I would never have guessed that I would use it in Haiti."
Joint Base McGuire Dix-Lakehurst members also volunteer at orphanages, now overflowing with children, and hospitals needing those trained in an array of skills to help with organizing stock rooms, bandaging wounds, and in one case, delivering a baby.
Staff Sgt. Jared Lacovara of the 88th APS, Master Sgt. John Vicenti and Sergeant Kertnitski, and Airman Toussaint took part in recovering six of 15 Americans who perished at Hotel Montana in Port-au-Prince.
Sergeant Vicenti said he will come away from this deployment with the satisfaction knowing he helped families find closure and start rebuilding their lives.
Reserve members in Haiti are expected to return from this humanitarian deployment in May.