JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. —
Units across Joint Base Charleston worked together to mobilize base assets to North Auxiliary Airfield, South Carolina, during Hurricane Florence response efforts Sept. 26, 2018.
“The airlift of the P-23 firetruck was a testament to the 628th Air Base Wing and 437th Airlift Wing’s commitment to maintaining global mobility,” said Lt. Col. Michael Coppola, 628th Mission Support Group deputy commander. “The skillsets of each wing complimented each other to complete this mission on short notice.”
JB Charleston Airmen transported one of the 628th’s largest pieces of ground equipment, a 44,600-pound P-23 Airport Rescue Fire Fighting Truck, to NAAF on a C-17 Globemaster III, which can carry up to164,900 pounds.
Although the airfield is within driving distance for most vehicles, the P-23 is not designed to be driven on public roadways. Because of this, and an influx of traffic caused by the expected hurricane, JB Charleston leadership decided airlift was the best option for transporting the P-23 to elevate the firefighting capabilities of NAAF.
“Everybody was great to work with, we had the fire department prepping the truck for transport, 628th Civil Engineer structural team build the shoring and an Explosive Ordnance Disposal team helped us,” said Master Sgt. John Miele, 628th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter. “This as an operational mission with a training opportunity that exposed our younger Airmen to an experience that emphasized the importance of teamwork within our shop and with other squadrons.”
Airlifting something as large as a fire truck comes with its fair share of moving parts and obstacles. Numerous checklist and safety precautions have to be taken in order to ensure the payload is delivered quickly, effectively and safely.
“This was a very short notice, high-priority inspection,” said Airman 1st Class Ryan Mammoser, 437th Aerial Port Squadron air transportation specialist. “We had to make sure there were no hazardous materials on the truck and fuel levels were within regulation. Luckily, the fire department did a great job preparing it for shipment, which made my job as a joint-inspector much easier.”
Although it has been done before, this was a first for most of the Airmen involved. With the storm’s unpredictable path, Team Charleston prepared for a direct hit. The flexibility of its Airmen enabled them to provide disaster relief while preparing to face the impact of the storm themselves.
“In my 18 years of service, I have only had to prep one other truck for airlift and it was a smaller model,” said Miele. “This was a great opportunity to not only aid in the readiness of one of our airfields, but in the readiness of our Airmen.”
Logistics, like the P-23 transport mission, enabled the Federal Emergency Management Agency and various guard units to safely provide much-needed relief to those impacted by Hurricane Florence based out of NAAF.