Airmen from Ramstein’s 37th Airlift Squadron loaded a C-130J Super Hercules with needed supplies and launched their first mission Tuesday to West Africa in support of Operation United Assistance.
The team of Airmen flying with the aircraft made stops in Spain, Senegal and Liberia, which is the most heavily affected area of the Ebola outbreak in Africa.
With President Barack Obama’s announcements to increase U.S. efforts to respond to the Ebola virus epidemic, U.S. Africa Command is working with the U.S. Agency for International Development to deliver much needed support. Part of AFRICOM’s effort is the tactical theater airlift provided by the 86th Airlift Wing, whose Airmen are eager to do their part in the humanitarian effort.
“We’re super excited to get down there and help as much as we can,” said Capt. Brian Shea, 37th AS aircraft commander. “The 37th AS is a key component in AFRICOM’s mission to establish an air bridge for the operation. This mission is big for the 86th AW and our squadron.”
The president outlined in his Sept. 16 address that the U.S. would send troops and material to build field hospitals, additional health care workers, community care kits and much needed medical supplies to assist USAID, the lead federal agency.
Although the 37th AS team only expects to be on the ground in Liberia for a few hours, Shea was confident his team was well educated and prepared to handle any anticipated medical concerns, including receiving all required vaccinations and medical clearance to participate in missions throughout Africa.
“We’re not expecting to have any issues going into the theater,” Shea said. “We’ve been briefed and trained on how to handle any medical concerns if need be.”
Though this may be the first flight out of Ramstein to provide cargo support to OUA, the 37th AS is anticipating a consistent airflow requirement to assist with cargo and personnel transfer in and out of areas in need.
“I’m proud to be part of a mission like this,” said Staff Sgt. Kevin Byrne, 86th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron flying crew chief. “I’m ready to get down there and do some good things.”
The U.S. will continue to respond quickly and safely with African and international partners to help end the spread of the Ebola disease as soon as possible.