JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. (AFNS) --
Millions of people in every corner of the world lack basic supplies for food, water and education. In an effort to mitigate some of these issues, the Department of Defense created the Denton Program, which allows the Air Force to deliver privately donated humanitarian cargo on a space-available basis.
Under this program, Airmen assigned to the 62nd Airlift Wing transported 83,160 pounds of rice, costing almost $120,000 to Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, Oct. 25.
Due to extreme poverty and natural disasters, more than 48% of the Honduran population in rural areas and 35% of the overall population are malnourished.
The Airmen picked up the much-needed rice, a food chosen for worldwide use as it is universally accepted, from Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, and loaded nine pallets.
“It felt rewarding once you see how much food we actually loaded on the airplane, how many people were involved and seeing how far it actually traveled,” said Staff Sgt. Marcello Moffat, 8th Airlift Squadron loadmaster. “Going all the way from Oklahoma to Honduras is kind of incredible.”
By transporting the humanitarian cargo, Air Force pilots and loadmasters can become qualified or remain up-to-date on qualifications for their career field while also providing aid to countries all around the world.
“I think it‘s good that the Air Force does these humanitarian missions,” said Capt. Aaron Peercy, 8th AS C-17 Globemaster III instructor pilot, flight safety officer and the aircraft commander for the humanitarian mission. “It helps build international relationships and fosters comradery with our allies.”
It is estimated that this one shipment will provide nourishing sustenance to more than 472,000 Honduran men, women and children. Food will then be distributed to schools, orphanages and general feeding programs for children and families within the next six weeks.
The Denton Program shipped more than 1.78 million pounds of goods to 14 countries around the world, to include vehicles, education materials, household items, food and miscellaneous equipment in 2019.
Participating in this mission opened Moffat’s eyes to the capabilities the Air Force has to provide aid to those in need across the globe, and he hopes other Airmen will have the same opportunity to be a part of it.
“After learning how many people are going to be affected by this mission, I am a strong advocate for (the Denton Program),” he said. “To be honest, I did not know about it before this mission, and I think it should be broadcasted more.”
While the Air Force’s mission may be to fly, fight and win in air, space and cyberspace, it also helps improve lives throughout the world by delivering goods to those who need it most.