Air Force advisers, Afghan aircrew drop medical supplies to rural villages

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Larlee
  • 438th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
Advisors from the 738th Air Expeditionary Advisory Group and an Afghan air force helicopter aircrew from Shindand Air Base delivered critical medical supplies Jan. 27 to two remote Afghan villages.

The villagers of Sarji and Gaw Hoshtah were struck by a measles epidemic, which claimed the lives of 12 children, the advisors said.

The villages are isolated by mountains and the only delivery method possible for the supplies was by air transport.

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jason Stitt, a MI-17 aerial gunner adviser, said the Afghan aircrew did a great job during the mission and that it made him feel good to help out those in need.

"The mission went well," Stitt said. "We took five Afghan doctors, and 2,200 pounds of medical supplies, coordinated by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Aid and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, were airlifted by the Afghan air force from Chagcharan to the remote villages."

The team faced many challenges during the mission, the advisors said. In addition to traversing the mountainous terrain, extra precautions were taken to ensure none of the Afghan aircrew was exposed to the virus. Stitt said that they were unsure which of the Afghan aircrew had gotten the proper vaccinations for the disease.

The advising team spent time researching measles transmission and decided the unvaccinated crew would stay on board. All of the crew was outfitted with masks and gloves as another safety precaution to prevent the spread of the disease, Stitt said.

The team also had to deal with a difficult landing that involved a whiteout landing caused by the snow in the landing zone, which was at an altitude of 7,500 feet above sea level.
Stitt said he was very proud of how well everybody worked together.

"The highlight for me was working with our Afghan counterparts to accomplish this mission and bring relief to these two isolated villages," he said. "It feels good anytime that you get a chance to help someone out, especially when you get to help a village that had already lost 12 children due to the illness."