C-130s assist humanitarian relief efforts in Cyprus

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Two C-130 Hercules crews assigned to the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing delivered more than 10 tons of food and other relief supplies during two missions this past week to support American citizens leaving Lebanon.

Both missions were no-notice taskings delivered by U.S. Central Command Air Forces' Combined Air Operations Center. These missions were handed over to the wing's "Bravo Alert" crews that sit standby everyday to support emergency airlift requests.

"The lightning response of the 386th to swiftly deploy a C-130 allowed CENTCOM and USAFE teams to quickly assess the ground requirements in Cyprus to assist Americans attempting to depart Lebanon," said Col. Paul Curlett, 386th AEW commander. "(Our) C-130s helped set the stage for follow-on American assistance operations in response to the recent contingency in Lebanon."

For the first crew that transported 22,000 pounds of Meals, Ready to Eat and comfort items to Cyprus, the mission was not unexpected but completely welcomed.

"We watched the news while grabbing a quick bite at the dinning facility. When you see events like that unfold in the news, it is expected to get tasked to support it," said Capt. Matt Estoup, pilot and aircraft commander with the 737th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron. "It wasn't a surprise."

The second mission was executed by a veteran aircrew that had done earthquake relief operations in Pakistan and Afghanistan last year. So when they were called upon to move five pallets of supplies that included more MREs, blankets, bottled water and other supplies, it was business as usual.

Tactics and planning experts from the 386th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron anticipated the tasking in the days leading up to the airlift missions. In preparation they started the process of developing flight plans and applying for diplomatic clearances to fly over countries in the flight path well in advance of being contacted by the CAOC.

"As soon as we saw what was unfolding there we knew that we would be playing a role in it," said 1st Lt. Blake Greenfield, a tactics officer and C-130 pilot with the 386th EOSS. "We contacted the Air Mobility Division early on and started all the coordination that would need to take place."

The mission of flying supplies into Cyprus was a welcomed change for Maj. Daniel Ganoza, a navigator assigned to the 737th EAS.

"Here, we are constantly flying into Iraq to support their reconstruction efforts and to protect American interests. It's a nice break to change the scenery and to provide support to American citizens in time of need," he said.

Editor's note: Contributing to this article were Maj. Tom Crosson and Staff Sgt. Ryan Hansen from the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs Office.