NEWS | April 27, 2015

Active-duty and Guard keeps Nepal relief effort moving

By Trisha Gallaway Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

In response to the 7.8 magnitude earthquake which struck central Nepal April 25, 2015, the 437th Airlift Wing here began preparing for the possibility of providing support to Nepal.

"Soon after the call for relief came, several members led by Maj. Scott Motley, 15th Airlift Squadron assistant director of operations, began changing their weekend plans to coordinate and execute a very important humanitarian mission for Nepal," said Lt. Col. Cassius Bentley, 15th AS commander.

Not long after, the 16th Airlift Squadron began preparations as well.
"We placed aircrews into alert status, ready to launch as soon as we could verify that the airfield in Kathmandu, Nepal could receive aid flights," said Lt. Col. Patrick Farrell, 16th AS commander.

Coincidently, both squadrons would be called upon to make sure the first 437th AW mission in support of Nepal got off the ground.  

The 15th AS "immediately generated two crews," said Bentley, "one of which flew to [March Air Reserve Base] Calif., to transport an interagency disaster response team for further movement."

Upon landing at March ARB April 26, 2015, Inspector Chris Read, a Los Angeles County Fire Department spokesman said, "A 57-member team of L.A. County Fire Department firefighters, six search dogs and two semi-trucks worth of equipment were loaded onto the C-17."

According to a new release put out by the California Office of Emergency Services, this special team is known as the Urban Search and Rescue Task Force 2 or CA-TF2. They are one of eight teams that make up the California Urban Search and Rescue Program. These teams, when called upon, travel with specialized equipment, such as heavy concrete cutting equipment, chainsaws, search cameras and sonar to locate victims, as well as specialized communications and generators.  

Following the loading of the team's equipment, Capt. Brandon Gillet, 15th Airlift Squadron C-17 pilot and the aircraft commander for the mission, flew the cargo and personnel back to JB Charleston, where he then handed the mission off to an aircrew from the 16th AS.

The second leg of the mission to Nepal departed JB Charleston April 27, 2015 with Capt. Zachary White, 16th AS and mission aircraft commander at the helm.

"Captain White and his crew are flying directly to Germany where an Air National Guard crew will take over and continue the mission of providing critical aid to Nepal," said Farrell.

The Guard aircrew flying the last leg of the mission is assigned to the 164th Airlift Wing at the Tennessee Air National Guard in Memphis, TN.

"Our first C-17 airlift mission to support the victims of the Nepal earthquake is a total force effort," said Col. John Lamontagne, 437th AW commander. "Our crews from the 15th and 16th Airlift Squadrons, combined with a crew from the National Guard, worked to quickly deliver the supplies to the other side of the planet.  While many may view this as a very tall order, the truth is it almost always happens like this -- with a combination of folks from the active duty, Reserve, and the National Guard."