Ohio Air Guard unit assists Haiti relief efforts

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As many stand poised around the country ready to answer the call, officials with the Ohio Air National Guard's 179th Airlift Wing in Mansfield already have two C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft providing assistance to Haiti.

Airmen from the 179th AW had deployed to Puerto Rico Jan. 9 during a planned rotation in support of Operation Coronet Oak, a U.S. Southern Command theater airlift support mission.  Three days later, the magnitude 7.0 earthquake hit neighboring Haiti. The same evening, SOUTHCOM officials placed three aircrews from the 179th on alert. Early on Jan. 13, the first aircrew was activated and was airborne within three hours.

The C-130 flew to Florida to collect search and rescue teams and communication crews and deliver them to Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital. Soon after, a second aircrew was alerted and airborne.

The first aircrew arrived in Port-au-Prince as the sun was setting and landed successfully, despite challenging terrain and a downed communication tower. The C-130 was the first such aircraft to land in Port-au-Prince. The second aircrew arrived after sunset with three pallets of communication materials to improve departure and approach communication at Port-au-Prince airport.

Three Puerto Rico Air National Guard aircraft have been tasked to the 179th Airlift Wing for this operation to pick up and deliver additional supplies and personnel.