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Altus AFB Airmen deliver aid to Liberia

Medical supplies from the Air Force Medical Operations Agency are loaded onto a C-17 Globemaster III Sept. 26, 2014, at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. The supplies were being sent in support of Operation United Assistance to help treat patients and halt the spread of the Ebola virus. The supplies will support field hospitals and aid workers battling the virus in Monrovia, Liberia. The C-17 is assigned to the 97th Air Mobility Wing. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Justine K. Rho

Medical supplies from the Air Force Medical Operations Agency are loaded onto a C-17 Globemaster III Sept. 26, 2014, at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. The supplies were being sent in support of Operation United Assistance to help treat patients and halt the spread of the Ebola virus. The supplies will support field hospitals and aid workers battling the virus in Monrovia, Liberia. The C-17 is assigned to the 97th Air Mobility Wing. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Justine K. Rho

Medical supplies from the Air Force Medical Operations Agency are loaded onto a C-17 Globemaster III  Sept. 26, 2014, at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. The C-17 is assigned to the 97th Air Mobility Wing, deployed from Altus Air Force Base, Okla., and supported Operation United Assistance. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Justine K. Rho)

Medical supplies from the Air Force Medical Operations Agency are loaded onto a C-17 Globemaster III Sept. 26, 2014, at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. The C-17 is assigned to the 97th Air Mobility Wing, deployed from Altus Air Force Base, Okla., and supported Operation United Assistance. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Justine K. Rho)

ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. (AFNS) -- Ten Airmen from the 97th Air Mobility Wing here, delivered humanitarian and medical supplies to Liberia Sept. 25 - Oct. 3, in support of Operation United Assistance to provide aid to the Ebola stricken region.

The epidemic has already claimed more than 3,500 lives, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and President Barack Obama has stated the U.S. will be leading the effort to fight the virus using a civilian-led, whole-of-government approach.

Maj. Will McDougall, the assistant director of operations with the 58th Airlift Squadron, said six instructor pilots and four instructor loadmasters with the 58th AS delivered more than 180,000 lbs. of medical and humanitarian aid supplies via two C-17 Globemaster IIIs.

The medical supplies were taken to a nearby hospital and the humanitarian supplies were taken to a site near the airport in Monrovia, the country's capital, said Maj. Mathew Foss, a formal training unit evaluator pilot with the 58th AS. The humanitarian supplies were intended for living quarters being built for U.S. Army Soldiers, which will be adjacent to a field hospital being set up near the airport.

"We were very well received and our help was clearly appreciated by the residents," McDougall said. "They were eager to get the supplies. That was the most rewarding thing to see.

"It's not very often Altus crews get to support Air Mobility Command in this way," he continued. "We were all very happy to directly impact the humanitarian effort."

Obama met with his senior advisors Oct. 6, to review the U.S. response to the epidemic.

"As I've said from the start of this outbreak, I consider this a top national security priority,” Obama said. “This is not just a matter of charity -- although obviously the humanitarian toll in countries that are affected in West Africa is extraordinarily significant. This is an issue about our safety. It is also an issue with respect to the political stability and the economic stability in this region."

Foss said he saw several agencies and military branches working together in Liberia, including the Army, Air Force and the United Nations among others. He said he thinks the support being offered is extremely important.

"Helping with the effort there helps protect us at home," Foss said.

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