HomeNewsArticle Display

C-17 crew members reflect on Philippine relief efforts

More than 670 Tacloban residents sit on board a C-17 Globemaster III before being evacuated to Manila following Super Typhoon Haiyan, which hit the Philippines Nov. 17, 2013. The C-17 is deployed from the 535th Airlift Squadron at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, to Clark Air Base in the Philippines in support of Operation Damayan, a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief effort. In addition to the safe transport of the passengers, the Hickam based crew also successfully delivered more than 100,000 pounds of cargo. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Staff Sgt. Ramon Brockington)

More than 670 Tacloban residents sit on board a C-17 Globemaster III before being evacuated to Manila following Super Typhoon Haiyan, which hit the Philippines Nov. 17, 2013. The C-17 is deployed from the 535th Airlift Squadron at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, to Clark Air Base in the Philippines in support of Operation Damayan, a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief effort. In addition to the safe transport of the passengers, the Hickam based crew also successfully delivered more than 100,000 pounds of cargo. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Staff Sgt. Ramon Brockington)

Displaced residents from Tacloban, Philippines, exit a C-17 Globemaster III after being evacuated to Manila Nov. 17, 2013 during Operation Damayan. The aircrew, deployed from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, aided in the successful rescue of 1,177 evacuees while flying humanitarian missions in support of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief effort following Super Typhoon Haiyan. The 535th Airlift Squadron C-17 is one of two deployed to the region. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Staff Sgt. Ramon Brockington)

Displaced residents from Tacloban, Philippines, exit a C-17 Globemaster III after being evacuated to Manila Nov. 17, 2013 during Operation Damayan. The aircrew, deployed from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, aided in the successful rescue of 1,177 evacuees while flying humanitarian missions in support of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief effort following Super Typhoon Haiyan. The 535th Airlift Squadron C-17 is one of two deployed to the region. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Staff Sgt. Ramon Brockington)

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii (AFNS) --

Days after Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippine's eastern seaboard Nov. 8, C-17 Globemaster III crews from the 535th Airlift Squadron here, began flying sorties in and out of the hardest hit areas as part of Operation Damayan.

Tacloban, the capital city of the Philippine Province Leyte, served as a staging area for international relief efforts, receiving more than 2,080 tons of food, water, machinery and other supplies from Pacific Air Force's aircraft. The aircraft also carried displaced people from Tacloban to Manila.

Capt. Michael Hank, of the 535th AS and the aircraft commander of the first C-17 to touch down in Tacloban, said this was an operation that will always stand out to him.

"Relief efforts like this are all about helping others out the way we would want to be helped in our time of need," Hank said. "Our C-17 crew was just a small part of the effort."

Hank and his crew flew 40 sorties in and out of the affected areas, evacuating thousands of people from the hardest hit areas to Manila, where evacuation centers were established.

"I can remember flying in and seeing (what seemed like) 20,000 people at the gates of the flight line waiting to get out of there," he said. "Many of the people we were flying out were women, children and the elderly, so it made it challenging sometimes."

Sometimes the crew members had to do things that they wouldn't normally do on other missions.   

"Me and a couple other guys on the crew had to carry some elderly women onto the aircraft; I couldn't speak their language and they couldn't speak mine," Hank said. "We sat them in their seats and buckled them in. The lady I carried looked at me with a smile on her face, put her hand on my face and kissed me on the cheek, and you just know that is a universal 'thank you.'"

Cargo pallets, heavy machinery, all-terrain vehicles, water purification units and first-aid supplies are just some of the relief items flown in to the area.

Senior Airman Dylan Porras, a C-17 loadmaster with the 535th AS, was on a different crew for Operation Damayan, but flew similar sorties in, out and around the country.

"It's great to see that the Air Force has the opportunity and manpower to help the Philippines, and the fact that we help makes me feel good to do what I do," Porras said. "Not everyone has the opportunity to participate in this (operation), so I'm glad I could help,"

Engage

Facebook Twitter
RT @AETCommand: Transforming the way we learn with technology is one of our key priorities here in the First Command! Check out the photos…
RT @AirNatlGuard: This week, @ChiefNGB visited the @PRNationalGuard at Muñiz Air National Guard Base to meet with senior leaders and discus…
RT @GenDaveGoldfein: YOU are the most important reason for our mission success. Take care of each other & preserve the connections & commun…
RT @AirmanMagazine: When it comes to acquisitions, the @usairforce has the need for speed. Equipping Airmen with the best technology start…
RT @GenDaveGoldfein: A distinct privilege to help unveil the F-117 exhibit, establishing this remarkable aircraft in its rightful place in…
RT @AirNatlGuard: “For me personally, the CAP and Air Guard go hand in hand. When I look back at any state active duty or state support we…
RT @GenDaveGoldfein: Honored to participate on a panel with my fellow Service Chiefs at the @ReaganInstitute. May our leaders of today & th…
It was just a childhood dream but it crescendoed into this #Airman becoming the only woman in the #AirForce to both… https://t.co/vzGjPe7Vri
RT @USAFReserve: Loadmaster first Reservist to complete USAF Weapons School Advanced Instructor Course (Story by the @403rdWing) #ReserveRe
.@secafoffical will speak about America’s footprint in space going forward at 5:45 EST. Watch live at https://t.co/aSlw5ceGJj
RT @DeptofDefense: LIVE: @EsperDoD delivers keynote remarks at the Reagan National Defense Forum. #RNDF https://t.co/ZXhuaTOQTm
Today, we help Col. Charles McGee, a Tuskegee Airman, combat veteran and American legend, celebrate 💯 sorties aroun… https://t.co/bcmcDr4IYW
December 7, 1941. #PearlHarbor and six other #military bases on the Hawaiian island of Oahu were attacked, beginnin… https://t.co/4GvB8yPpGV
RT @US_TRANSCOM: Take a look at @usairforce Airmen assigned to the @109thAW using their ski-equipped C-130s to deliver supplies to the Arct…
RT @GenDaveGoldfein: Thank you to Gen CQ Brown & the @PACAF team for the outstanding work organizing one of largest gatherings of Pacific A…
RT @DeptofDefense: Flying side by side gets the mission done. @usairforce and @RoyalAirForce participated in exercise Point Blank with @NAT
RT @HQUSAFEPA: Getting to see a chaplain in a remote location is a #blessing. Archbishop of U.S. Military Services Timothy Broglio recently…
RT @AFWERX: Did you catch @EdwardsAFB’s first-ever @TEDx event? There’s no doubt their theme, “Laying the Foundation for Tomorrow’s Innovat…
RT @DeptofDefense: Press ▶️ to get motivated by watching this video of exercise #MobilityGuardian19, Air Mobility Command's largest full-sp…