TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – The Airmen of the 60th Air Mobility Wing delivered COVID-19 personal protective equipment and humanitarian aid bound for two separate combatant commands.
The Port Dawgs of the 60th Aerial Port Squadron and the Beeliners of the 21st Airlift Squadron stepped in to tackle two separate missions, helping deliver supplies to two different combatant commands using one C-17 Globemaster III.
On Jan. 29, the 60th APS received and packaged the cargo as it was headed for both the Army’s Defense Logistics Agency at Ramstein, Air Base, Germany and San Lucas, Sacatepequez, Guatemala.
The entire movement was a coordinated effort across multiple agencies to include DLA, the Department of Defense’s Denton Program, at Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, and the State Department.
More than 20 pallets were packed, loaded and sent off to provide COVID-19 support to the 86th Medical Group at Ramstein AB, Germany, at the request of the Air Force Medical Readiness Agency, according to the DLA.
Essential firefighting protective equipment comprised the additional shipment and was allocated for the Asociación Nacional de Bomberos Municipales Departamentales, San Lucas, Sacatepequez, Guatemala.
The COVID-19 PPE was part of a larger DLA request in Germany.
“DLA requested the shipment for U.S. service members throughout Germany after host nation regulations called for more advanced masks,” said Senior Airman Thomas Karol, 86th Airlift Wing public affairs specialist, here.
The COVID-19 relief pallets, which shipped out of Travis AFB in partnership with JB Charleston C-17s, consisted of 25,000 boxes in total, packed with a total of one million N-95 masks, according to DLA.
“The cargo entered the Defense Transportation System on Jan. 28 with first arrival to Ramstein on Jan. 30, the second mission arrived on Feb. 2, with the bulk of the load,” said John “Buck” Buchanan, 60th APS civilian operations officer. “When you take a couple steps back, from cradle-to-grave movement that happened in less than 6 days.”
During this pandemic, Travis AFB has supported COVID-19 relief across the globe completing more than 750 sorties carrying three million pounds of cargo. Most notably, Travis AFB airlifted over 1,000 respirators and 500 thousand test kits, world-wide.
But this mission was a two-parter. Part one, Ramstein AB COVID-19 relief, but because there was extra space on the C-17, these Airmen added the humanitarian aid supplies.
Of the entire shipment, two pallets were firefighting personal protective equipment and firefighting tools going to benefit 165 firefighters at the Asociación Nacional de Bomberos Municipales Departamentales, San Lucas, Sacatepequez, Guatemala. The equipment is on its way to providing more safety and resources for fire departments in that area.
Many nongovernment organizations coordinated to donate and deliver supplies to those in need. The donating agency applies to the JB Charleston Denton Program office, then after the shipment is approved, supplies are received at the closest Air Mobility Command location.
For this shipment of firefighting aid, Travis AFB was the supporting unit with the 60th APS tapped to receive the equipment. The Port Dawgs packed all of the equipment onto pallets and loaded the pallets into a C-17 in only 17 hours. The 21st AS then flew the supplies to JB Charleston where they’ll be connected to the last leg of their journey to Guatemala.
Ken Hundemer, Denton Program operations director, explained that the Denton Program channels civilian-donated goods to partnering countries and also uses the mission to train aircrew. On this mission the flight was bound for Germany, so they loaded the firefighting PPE to get it that much close to Guatemala.
This shipment of supplies was donated by Firefighters without Borders CA, a nongovernment organization out of San Rafael, California. The donations were mainly firefighting suits, helmets and self-contained breathing apparatuses as well as 25 fire hoses, each 50 feet long.
“We’ve been donating to stations in Guatemala for around 10 years,” said Angel Landaverde, Firefighters without Boarders CA president. “These donations allow them to be better prepared for fires.”
Landaverde mentioned that when he was first contacted by the Guatemala station, the station only had one fire hose — he’s been collecting donations for the last year.
The Denton program routinely delivers humanitarian aid supplies all over the world. In the last year, more than 2.4 million pounds of humanitarian aid has been delivered. The deliveries are handled by airlift units across the Department of Defense. More information on the Denton Program can be found here.
Travis AFB is often touted as Air Mobility Command’s busiest base, where crews airlifted 50,000 tons in cargo in 2020, alone. The weight of the total mission topped out at 35,950 pounds, according to the DLA and the 60th APS.