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435th AEW, AGOW collaborate in Mozambique disaster relief

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Devin Boyer
  • 435th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

Airmen assigned to the 435th Contingency Response Group and 75th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron combined their capabilities to provide disaster relief to those affected by Cyclone Idai, March 24 to April 13.

The air operation delivered approximately 1.8 million pounds of relief supplies provided by U.S. Agency for International Development, including food, blankets, temporary shelters, sanitary supplies, support vehicles, medical supplies, cholera vaccines and more.

The 435th CRG deployed 45 Airmen to Africa to provide subject matter expertise, material handling equipment and manpower to execute a range of operations including aerial porters, airfield management and air traffic control.

“Our key tasks were to receive and prepare humanitarian relief supplies, airlift both supplies and aid workers, then download and deliver them to USAID and civilian humanitarian organizations in charge of distribution to those in need,” said Lt. Col. Leonardo Tongko, 435th Contingency Response Squadron commander and contingency response task force commander for the operation. “For this operation, we developed a logistics and airlift plan to support the requirements of USAID in concert with the U.N. Office of Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs, the World Food Programme, the International Red Cross and many other organizations.”

The 75th EAS provided airlift for the operation, utilizing C-130J Super Hercules aircraft out of Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, to deliver the supplies in areas affected by Cyclone Idai.

“Interagency cooperation was a critical key to our success for this operation,” Tongko said. “Airmen from both wings worked together to support ramp operations and developed a make-shift logistics yard to build and prepare pallets for onward delivery.”

Aerial porters were responsible for building the pallets. However, Tongko said they had a significant amount of help from their brothers and sisters across the 435th CRG, 449th Air Expeditionary Group, and Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa counterparts.

Airmen established distribution hubs in Djibouti; Beira and Maputo, Mozambique; and Durban, South Africa, where the 435th CRS utilized forklifts and high-loaders to upload and download the pallets of relief supplies on and off the aircraft.

“Our airmen have made an impact in these locations, but it is most felt in the city of Beira, the hardest hit of Mozambique and where many of the civilian organizations are working out of to distribute relief supplies,” Tongko said.

After 21 days of dedication from 435th Air Ground Operations Wing and 435th AEW Airmen, the disaster relief mission came to a close.

“I am so proud of our Airmen,” he added. “Their ability to rise to any challenge and get out the door to support this mission and help those in need is what makes the U.S. Air Force and our sister services so special. In less than 24 hours from notification, our assessment team was out the door, and less than 12 hours later our contingency response task force was on its way to help. You can't find a better team to be a part of.”