Travis AFB transports critical aid in support of Hurricane Irma relief operations

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Charles Rivezzo
A C-17 Globemaster III departed Travis Air Force Base, California, during the early morning hours Sept. 9, 2017, enroute to Puerto Rico to deliver a team of search and rescue personnel assigned to Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Texas Task Force 1 in support of Hurricane Irma relief operations.

The task force forward deployed from Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas, where its equipment and supplies, which included communications and all-terrain vehicles as well as medical supplies and self-sustaining support assets, were uploaded onto the aircraft and flown to Puerto Rico. 

This team of highly skilled individuals is designed to be logistically self-sufficient for the first 72 hours of operation and can function for up to 14 days under remote and austere conditions.

According to Ken Wright, the task force’s team leader, the forward deployment to Puerto Rico was assigned hours after the team returned from supporting relief efforts for Hurricane Harvey. 

Hurricane Irma skirted Puerto Rico Sept. 6, causing waves of up to 30 feet off the capital San Juan.

Although the U.S. territory avoided a direct hit, its infrastructure was badly affected - more than half of the island's three million residents were without power and officials said many could be cut off for several days.

The airlift mission focused on the overarching Department of Defense priority of working with support authorities in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico to protect the lives and safety of those in affected areas. 

Capt. Bryan Adams, 15th Airlift Squadron C-17 aircraft commander, said airlifting support and rescue elements into the area underscores the Air Force’s ability to have the right capabilities at the right place at the right time.

“Our job is to answer when called upon,” he said. “It’s a privilege to be able to bring support to the Puerto Rico and Caribbean region.”

The successful delivery of the task force to Puerto Rico is just one of several missions currently being executed out of Travis AFB in support of recent hurricane relief operations. Travis deployed a 10-bed patient staging facility and 28 Airmen earlier in the week to St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, to support patient movement from Schneider Regional Medical Center, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, to Puerto Rico.