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Air Force Featured Stories

Coalition forces aid in humanitarian efforts

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Cohen A. Young
  • 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
A team of coalition forces to include an Italian C-130 Hercules and a C-130J-30 assigned to the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing, at Bagram Airfield assisted the Afghan government with humanitarian efforts this week.

A mudslide flowed through a village in the Badakhshan province May 2, creating a need for humanitarian aid in the remote area. Coalition personnel from Bagram were ready assist.

"We knew they were getting ready to send humanitarian relief effort that way," said Lt. Col. Mitchell Spillers, the 774th EAS director of operations. "We started prepping and looking at the airfield because we hadn't been in that area before as a unit.

Crews assigned to the 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron made three trips between May 4-5 to Fayzabad Airport, Afghanistan, where they delivered approximately 140 personnel and 15.2 tons of supplies.

The airfield provided some challenges due to its location and weather.

"It was a remote location in the northeastern part of Afghanistan and very mountainous," Spillers said. "It was a little bit of concern for terrain and weather and getting our crew in and out of there safely."

The crew picked up personnel and supplies at Kabul International Airport, then maneuvered through the mountains and landed at Fayzabad Airport, where they dropped off their cargo.

Although the crew dealt with thunderstorms, icing, a bird strike and a narrow landing zone, they were able to complete their task due to their training.

"The flight in there was awesome with the canyon leading us right to the runway," said Capt. Gregory Caylor. "We train on a lot of smaller runways, so it honestly didn't feel too bad. Length is what we usually worry about; it was a little narrow, but we had plenty of runway."

One thing the crew did have to worry about was the fact that there was not an American security team in place in that area, so the crew was supported by two fly away security team members assigned to the 455th Expeditionary Base Defense Squadron and six U.S. Soldiers assigned to the 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

The joint team provided security for the travelers while the crew unloaded the personnel and supplies.

"It's pretty cool working with the Air Force," said U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Robert Mode, a native of Denton, Texas. "They're professional and we're professional; there's a task or job to get done and we get it done together."

All of the members that flew to Fayzabad Airport were glad to help and felt the mission mattered.

"When we finally get to impact people with a humanitarian act, it brings a purpose to us being here," Caylor said. "We feel like we're doing something positive."